New FSSAI panel to finalise food fortification rules

Aims to increase consumption of food rich in nutrients

New FSSAI panel to finalise food fortification rules

India’s food safety authority has created an expert panel to finalise food fortification rules that would facilitate inclusion of crucial micro-nutrients to essential food items like rice, wheat, oil and milk.

The panel with doctors and medical researchers would finalise the rules on the basis of inputs that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) received since October 2016.

The FSSAI also issued guidelines on fortification for five food items — salt, milk, wheat flour, rice and edible oil.

Standards were set for fortifying salt with iodine and iron, vegetable oil and milk with vitamin A and D, and wheat flour and rice with iron, folic acid, zinc, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A.

The aim is to increase the production and consumption of these nutrition-rich food.
The 11-member committee will identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet and define strategies to address the nutritional needs of the population, besides reviewing the standards for all suitable candidates.

A five-city regional consultation is on to push the fortification drive. The last meeting is scheduled in Guwahati on February 15, sources said. Other places where the consultations were held are Delhi, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar and Bengaluru.

With India having lakhs of people suffering from micro-nutrient deficiency related health disorders such as neural tube defects, blindness and anaemia, food fortification has been on the government radar for long as a viable option to address these problems.

Past medical research in India suggested that fortifying food with multiple micro-nutrients or iron improved the level of biological markers like iron and haemoglobin. Multiple fortification was recommended over single fortificants because of increased health benefits.

Members of the new FSSAI panel are Ambrish Mithal from Medanta Hospital; C S Pandav and R K Marwaha (Retd) from AIIMS, Delhi; Anura Kurpad from St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru; Yogeshwar Shukla from Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow; HPS Sachdev from Sita Ram Bharatia Institute of Science and Research, Delhi; K M Nair from National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad; P Ramachandran from Nutrition Foundation of India; Sumit Arora from National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal; Sirimavo Nair from the M S University, Baroda, and Abhya Harsulkar from Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune.

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