27 Jan Food fortification
Food fortification- Today Current Affairs
(GS Paper-II, Polity,Constitution,Governance,Social Justice and International Relations)
Why in News?
- A Report published by Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC) of FSSAI has stated that more than 70% of India’s population consumes less than half of the dietary allowance of micronutrients recommended daily.
- These deficiencies impact the Urban population along with womens and children in rural areas.
What is Food Fortification?
- In order to address the issue of deficiency gap, the government has resorted to a cost effective strategy of food fortification with demonstrated health, economic and social benefits.
- Food fortification refers to the enrichment of food by adding vital micronutrients like vitamins ,zinc ,iron etc to it. It is generally done to balance out the deficiency caused due to the insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals.
Why is food fortification required?
- As per the report of FAO ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021’ ,15.3% of the country’s population is undernourished and India is home to highest proportion of stunted (30%) and wasted (17.3%) children below the age of 5 years.
- In the category of ‘serious hunger’ under Global hunger index, India ranked 94 out of 107 countries.
- According to the food ministry every third child in the country is stunted and every second woman is anemic. The prevalence of malnutrition among women and children poses a major obstacle in their development.
Government initiative on food fortification: The Hindu Analysis
- In order to address the malnutrition and deficiency issues, the Central government has approved the scheme of fortification of rice which shall be distributed through the Public Distribution system.
- Many state governments have already taken initiative towards food fortification including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand , Tamilnadu ,Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh ,Maharashtra among others.
- Addition of food fortification to the social and nutritional security program of the country can play a vital role in addressing undernutrition prevalent in the country.
Significance of food fortification: The Hindu Analysis
- It is one of the cost effective methods to enrich the staple foods with micronutrients which are consumed widely and can improve health of a large section of the population.
- According to Copenhagen Consensus ₹1 spent on the fortifications will result in ₹9 benefits to the economy.
- Food fortification is one of the safe methods to ensure the nutritional security of the people with no health risk.
- It does not alter the food habits of the people so in one way it is a socio- culturally acceptable method of addressing the nutrition deficiency.
- At the same time it does not change the characteristics of food like taste smell feel ,touch.
- It can be implemented swiftly and can achieve better health results in a comparatively short span.
Concerns associated with food fortification: The Hindu Analysis
- Although food fortification enriches the nutritional value of food it is in no way a substitute for a good quality diet which is required to supply adequate amount of energy.
- Due to low purchasing power and underdeveloped distribution channels the poor segment of the population will still fail to have access to the fortified food.
- Studies on impact of food fortification are still inconclusive and certainly not adequate before the major policies are rolled out.
- Increasing the expenditure in agri R&D would help motivate the innovations of biofortified food which can alleviate malnutrition.
- Educating women can have a direct impact on improving the well being of child and mother.
- India needs a multi-pronged approach like access to safe drinking water sanitation and better education health facilities to eliminate the root cause of the complex problem.
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