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Our food is not nutritious enough. Synthetically sourced vitamins, minerals are being injected into it

Due to the shift in food habits, our bodies' requirement of the nutritive components is not being met with. To cover this up, synthetically sourced vitamins, minerals are being added to our food

Diti BajpaiDiti Bajpai   30 Oct 2019 11:52 AM GMT

Our food is not nutritious enough. Synthetically sourced vitamins, minerals are being injected into it

"Vitamin A deficiency is causing several ailments pertaining to heart, bones and muscles. This deficiency can be covered up by adequate milk intake. We are advising milk processing companies to fortify their milk in order to improve the concentration of such nutritive components in it," Dr Anita Bhatnagar Jain, Additional Director, Food Security and Drugs Administration, said while addressing officials of various milk processing companies across the country.

Besides nourishment, we also inherently require vitamins and minerals, but due to the shift in food habits, our bodies' requirement of the nutritive components is not being met with. To cover this deficiency up, synthetically sourced vitamins and minerals are being added to food items during processing. This improves the nutritive value of the food products and this entire process is termed 'fortification'.

In Lucknow, a technical workshop was recently organized to encourage 30 milk processing units towards milk fortification. Dr Jain had informed in this workshop, "The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formed the standards for the micro-nutrients to be incorporated into the milk. Instead of cow's milk or full fat-milk, toned, double-toned and skimmed milk would have to be fortified. Many milk processing and oil companies have already begun doing so within the state, but it is the aim of our department that 71 milk processing units in Uttar Pradesh follow this."

In Lucknow, a technical workshop was recently organized to encourage 30 milk processing units towards milk fortification.

Attending the workshop, Dr M Gupta, general manager CP Milk and Food Product Company, has been fortifying milk for the past eight months. Sharing his experiences during the workshop, he said: "Our unit processes 2.5 lakh liters of milk on a daily basis, out of which 1.2 lakh liter milk is fortified. There is no harm in doing so. We have been fortifying our milk in compliance with the FSSAI standards."

Like Dr Gupta, many other officials of various milk processing units across the country shared their experiences with the fortified milk as a product. Jaya Tripathi, who is a fortification consultant to Indian Health Action Trust informed: "Several major as well as minor companies, including Parag and Namaste India, have taken up fortifying milk. Those which haven't so far, are now being encouraged to do so and also shall be trained soon in it."

The FSSAI had initiated the regulations in August 2018

In cognizance of the widespread nutritive deficiency among people, the FSSAI had, in 2018, issued the regulations for food fortification. These regulations directed the companies to fortify wheat flour, rice, milk, salt and cooking oil whereby they had to add synthetic Vitamin A and D to cooking oil and milk.

Similarly, wheat flour and rice were to be fortified with synthetic B-12 and folic acid whereas salt is to be fortified with Iodine as well as iron as per the prescribed standards. Many companies are already fortifying said food products. As per the FSSAI, in the country's organized sector, 50 per cent of cooking oil and 35 per cent of packaged milk is being fortified already.

70 per cent population suffering from nutritive deficiency

As per the FSSAI, 70 per cent of the population in India is not able to adequately consume micro-nutritive elements such as vitamins and minerals. As per the report of the National Nutrition Institute, food served in 40 per cent homes in India to children is unbalanced. 55 per cent of children below five years of age are underweight and 52 per cent have below average height. Similarly, children up to five years suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. People's food is fast losing the nutritive value from proteins, iron, calcium and thiamine. Observing all this, the FSSAI is emphasizing upon food fortification.

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