The control of micro-nutrient deficiencies is an "essential" part of the government's fight against malnutrition, Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel today said as she asserted that food fortification is an "effective" strategy to meet nutritional needs of the people.
"The control of micro-nutrient deficiencies is an essential part of the overarching effort of the government to fight hunger and malnutrition... Food fortification is a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children.
"Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance. It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food. It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time," she said.
"It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms," Patel said at the inauguration of 'National Summit on Fortification of Food' here.
Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan was also present on the occasion.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods, namely 'Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016'.
The regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods.
The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory.
This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.
Laying emphasis on the need for food fortification, Patel said food fortification reinforces and supports existing nutrition improvement programmes and is part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micro-nutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition.
She also released the standards on fortification of foods and launched the food fortification logo at the event.
"Nutrition is a major determinant of health. Macro- and
micro- nutrients deficiency will lead to risk factors that may cause various diseases like TB, anaemia, etc. ICMR has planned to conduct health and nutrition survey to get first hand insights about nutritional values of the food consumed by the people of the country," said Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).
FSSAI is co-hosting the two-day summit in partnership with related central ministries and development partners.
The summit will bring together experts from the nutrition and development communities as well as representatives from state governments, academics and technical supporters to discuss and debate various aspects including presenting in-depth analysis and impact assessments, important and case study examples of food fortification programmes and challenges.