The Issue of the Necessity of Food Fortification
Recently, experts have expressed concern over the necessity of food fortification.
- Experts have cast doubt on the Centre’s plan to compulsorily fortify rice and edible oils with vitamins and minerals.
- Based on inconclusive evidence in favor of fortification, he warned about its adverse effects on health and livelihood.
- Food fortification is the process of blending vitamins and minerals into commonly consumed foods during processing.
- This process is done to increase the nutritional content of these foods and to combat hidden hunger.
- Hidden hunger is a condition of deficiency of one or more micronutrients such as iron, folate, zinc, vitamin-A, vitamin B-12 and vitamin-D.
- The studies on the basis of which fortification is being promoted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are sponsored by the food companies that will benefit from it, so there is a possibility of conflict of interest.
- Nutrients do not act at a single level, but require each other for optimal absorption.
- The addition of one or two synthetic chemical vitamins and minerals in food for undernourished populations can lead to poisoning.
- Mandatory fortification will hurt the broader informal economy of Indian farmers and food processors.
- Experts have suggested that dietary diversity and high protein consumption are the keys to solving the problem of hidden hunger in India.
- According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report for the year 2019, more than 80 percent of adolescents in India are suffering from Hidden Hunger.
Source – The Hindu