In a concerted effort to tackle under-nutrition in the country, the goverment is planning to provide fortified food products like wheat, rice, salt, and milk in schools’ midday meal and the supplementary nutrition scheme under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). In India malnutrition levels continue to be shockingly high.
A committee of secretaries set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to recommend changes in the social sector, will be piloting the programme. “The recommendation that staple foods like milk, wheat, rice, edible oils and salt will be fortified and provided to schools and anganwadis was cleared by the PM,” a source said.
The secretaries will meet food manufacturers next week to encourage large scale fortification. “Food products like wheat and rice are already being fortified in 10 states.We need to broaden it to all states,” the source said.
States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are already using some of the fortified products. Sources said that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been asked to revise norms for these products which will be fortified with iron, vitamin A and D. The target is to ensure complete coverage in the next two years.
There are 84 countries in the world that are already using fortified products to counter the problem of under-nutrition. According to health experts, more than 50% of child mortality under five years of age can be attributed to malnutrition.