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The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is likely to come up with fortification standards for packaged food products such as cereals and biscuits. Fortification means deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients such as iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Iodine, etc, in a food product so as to improve its nutritional quality with minimal risk to health.
“We are discussing with the industry to bring fortification norms for processed (packaged) food products. It is more of an afterthought. We do not have much clarity on it as of now,” said an FSSAI official on the condition of anonymity.
The FSSAI has already issued draft guidelines for five products — rice, salt, wheat flour, milk and edible oil. These guidelines, which were put in public domain on September 4 to invite comments and suggestions, set the minimum levels of micronutrients which should be added to these five products in order to be called ‘fortified’. FSSAI will issue the final guidelines for them once the 60-day time period for receiving public comments is over.
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“If a company starts a category of biscuits which is called ‘fortified biscuits’, it is good for the general population only. In America, there is a focus of fortification in packaged food products which are consumed for breakfast, such as cereals. But our approach to fortification in packaged foods is going to be a little different than what we have done till date for five products,” the official added.
The FSSAI is expecting that the fortification of food products, which are consumed in the government programs, will be done within a year. “However, as the food industry is huge and largely unorganised, they will take a much longer time to fortify their food products,” the official said.
On October 16, Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, launched the logo for “fortified food product”. “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. It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms,” she had said.
Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has earlier stated that if someone is using the “fortified food product” logo, and if they are not fortifying it as per the prescribed standards, then that company would be subjected to same penalty as for manufacturing unsafe or adulterated products.