NEW DELHI: In a bid to address malnutrition levels across the country, the centre is considering universal fortification of all staple food items as in case of iodised salt. The proposal was made by a group of secretaries working on health and education before the Prime Minister’s Office last week.
The secretaries have proposed universal fortification of all staple food items on the lines of iodine-enhanced salt, sources in the Women and Child Development Ministry said. During the presentation in the PMO, all stakeholders, including Agriculture, Food and Public Distribution, Commerce and the Ministries of Health and Women and Child Development agreed to the plan.
The sources said that once a final decision to implement this is taken, then the Food Safety Standard Authority of India will notify the standards following which all producers and manufacturers will have to follow the guidelines. The government had already commissioned a study on fortification by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad.
As per the proposal submitted by the institution, wheat is to be fortified with Iron, Rice with Iron and Vitamin D, Milk and Edible Oils with Vitamin A. The proposal also talks about double fortification of salt as it was felt that the present standards are not enough.
The decision to iodize entire edible salt in a phased manner was taken in 1984 and the target was achieved by 1992.
World over 84 countries supply fortified food to their citizens. This is to tackle nutritional loss in transit from harvesting to milling to packaging to distribution and also due to excessive use of chemicals. The sources said pilot projects are going on in various parts of the country.
The National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad and Department of Bio-Technology, Delhi have the requisite technology. The production can be started in nine months to a year.