FSSAI to soon come up with regulations to fortify processed foods

at 9:00 pm

New Delhi (NVI): The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is soon coming up with regulations, whereby cereals, bakery products, etc can also be fortified.

FSSAI Director Inoshi Sharma, while speaking a webinar yesterday, asserted that an overview of the food safety is need of the hour.

“As of now, five staples-salt, oil, milk, flour and rice are being fortified. The FSSAI in the process of passing a regulation for processed foods and the industry would be happy to know that very soon we would be coming up with regulations, whereby cereals, bakery products, buns, breads, biscuits, pasta, noodles, etc., commodities consumed by the people for which wheat or rice is used as a base for creating, can also be fortified,” Sharma said.

She was speaking at the webinar on Tackling the Impact of COVID-19 on Micronutrient Deficiencies through Food Fortification, organized by FICCI in collaboration with World Food Programme (WFP) and DSM India.

“The need for research is very important and we need to figure out how we can adopt the process of fortification effectively,” she added.

She said that it is time for the industry to come forward and promote fortification with +F brand products and spread consumer awareness. “The only condition we have put for processed food is that they should not be HFSS- high in fat, salt and sugar. If they do not fall in this category, all other processed food can be fortified,” Sharma added.

The FSSAI director further added that said that while on one hand it is important that the government push forward the programme through PDS and other measures, it is also important that the industry adopts these fortification programmes and adds fortificants so that awareness for health benefits of fortified products is created among people.

“The regulations are very simple,” she said. “The amount of fortification, which is added, is restricted to 30-50 per cent of the RDA. So, if there is a concern that by consuming a lot of fortified products, it might lead to toxicity levels, we want to assure that all that has been taken care of. These regulations are passed only after a scientific pattern has gone through them.”

While emphasizing the need for fortification from a policy perspective, Sharma said that a proposal for mandatory fortification of oil and milk, encouraging processed food manufactures to undertake fortification, training of staff on food fortification, retail expansion for availability of fortified staples and checking and sampling of premix quality were some of the crucial key pointers and way forward.

“We are making sure that slowly the process of fortification becomes mandatory,” she added.

Also participating in the Webinar, Maaike Bruins, Lead Scientist F&B/NI NSA Global, DSM said that the COVID pandemic has been undermining nutrition across the world, especially in the low-income and middle-income countries and has aggravated malnutrition across these countries.

“This is an opportunity for fortified staple foods such as rice or wheat flour to be included in the food-based safety net as part of COVID-19 response. Integrating fortified foods as part of safety nets in COVID-19 response can support resilience among most vulnerable of population,” she added.

Purnima Menon, Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute, said, “In India, the context for fortification is both what happens in the foods that go in the private markets also, very substantially, what happens to foods & products that go in the public programs. There is a need to invest in understanding the implementation research and factors affecting its impact and outcome.”