Context: Milk fortification best tool to address malnutrition
A collaborative initiative of the World Bank, Tata Trusts and National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to address vitamin deficiencies in the consumers has seen significant progress over the past two years.
What is food fortification?
Food fortification is an enrichment of food by adding micronutrients to it at a level higher than what the original food contains.
Fortification is a simple, affordable and viable approach to address the issues of micronutrients deficiencies among a large section of a country’s population.
It can significantly improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and improve public health with minimal risk.
Key facts :
- The latest information by the NDDB(National Dairy Development Board) revealed that about 25 milk federations/producer companies or milk unions across 20 states in India are fortifying about 55 lakh liters of milk per day. The fortification follows Standard Operating Procedures(SOPs) developed by NDDB and the FSSAI Standards. Till date, about one million metric tonnes of milk is fortified.
- The project aims to process about 2 million metric tonnes of fortified liquid milk reaching to around 30 million consumers. The project duration is 23 months. NDDB is providing consultancy to World Bank for the implementation of this project.
- The Board is also providing technical and financial support to the Milk federations/Producer Companies/Unions for project implementation. It is also supporting the development of SOPs for milk fortification & testing; quality assurance & quality control methods. The support in conducting fortification trials/training/capacity building is also there. The Board is providing help in developing promotional materials. Of the 25 project proposals approved, fortification has commenced in 15 Milk Federations/Producer Companies/Unions. In 10 Milk Federations/ Producer Companies/ Unions, trials/ training and the launch are in pipeline.
- Vitamin A & D deficiencies are widely prevalent in India
- More specifically to India, micronutrient malnutrition is a silent emergency. As per WHO & UNICEF 2009 reports, India has the burden of more than a quarter of the world’s vitamin A deficient preschool children. More than 13 million infants are susceptible to iodine deficiency.
- According to the National Family Health Survey- 4 data, among children under 5 years in India, 38.4 percent are stunted, 21 percent are wasted and 35.7 percent are underweight.
- Micronutrient deficiencies such as iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, zinc, and vitamin D are very prevalent. They have an overwhelming impact on the public health and economic productivity of the nation.
How to combat such deficiencies?
- Milk Fortification of appropriate foods with Vitamin A and D is a viable strategy to tackle micronutrient malnutrition.
- Since it is a part regular dietary pattern and widely available and, milk can be the best vehicle to combat such micro-nutrients deficiency. India is the world’s largest milk producing country and the per capita milk availability has now increased to 375 grams per day. Milk fortification is highly affordable and cost-effective, as it costs less than 2 to 3 paise per liter.
- Recent research studied the effects of fortified milk on morbidity in young children in north India. The results showed that regular intake of fortified milk resulted in an 18% lower incidence of diarrhea, 26% lower incidence of pneumonia, 7% fewer days with high fever and 15% fewer days sick with severe illness.
- South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI) seeks to address the South Asian Enigma. How chronic malnutrition remains intractable despite high economic growth? It is doing so by fostering the cross-cutting actions that will lead to measurable improvements in food and nutrition security.
Fortification Logo (+F)
FSSAI issued the standards for fortification of five staples, namely, wheat flour, rice, milk, oil, and double fortified salt. In order to promote and differentiate between regular products and fortified products, a “+F” logo has been developed by FSSAI for the FBOs to use on the packs of the products that they are fortifying. This will help increase consumer awareness and assist consumers in making healthier food choices. The square around the +F represents completeness. The plus sign is about adding extra nutrition via vitamins and minerals to the daily nutrition requirements. The ring illustrates the ring of good health, protection for an active and healthy life.
Source: Bussiness Line , FSSAI