Fortification of Rice

Fortification of rice with vitamins and Minerals (Iron, Folic Acid & Vitamin B12)

Fortification Of Rice:

Fortification of rice makes it more nutritious by adding vitamins and minerals, many of which are lost during the milling and polishing process.

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.

Rice is cultivated in many parts of the world, as it grows in diverse climates. Industrial fortification of rice with vitamins and minerals has been practised for many years in several countries throughout the world, where rice is a staple consumed regularly in the preparation of many common local dishes. Micronutrient deficiencies of public health significance are widespread in most countries consuming high levels of rice; thus rice fortification has the potential to help aid vulnerable populations that are currently not reached by wheat or maize flour fortification programmes. However, rice production is often done domestically or locally which could make reaching all those in need with mass fortification programs challenging.

Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains. Rice can also be extruded and shaped into partially precooked grain-like structures resembling rice grains, which can then be blended with natural polished rice. Rice kernels can be fortified with several micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid, Vitamin B12 and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc.

Extrusion is the preferred technology for rice fortification because of the stability of micronutrients in the rice kernels across processing, storage, washing, cooking, and in view of cost considerations.

WHO recommendations

Fortification of rice with iron is recommended as a public health strategy to improve the iron status of populations, in settings where rice is a staple food.

Fortification of rice with vitamin A may be used as a public health strategy to improve the iron status and vitamin A nutrition of populations.

Fortification of rice with folic acid may be used as a public health strategy to improve the folate nutritional status of populations.

FSSAI recommendations

Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) produced using extrusion technology are made with rice flour and micronutrients such as iron, folic acid, Vitamin B12 as mandatory and zinc, vitamin A, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) as optional micronutrients.


Rice flour is pulverized and mixed with a premix containing vitamins and minerals. Fortified Rice Kernels are produced from this mixture using an extruder machine. Fortified Rice Kernels resemble milled rice in size, shape, and colour but contain additional vitamins and minerals that retain their micronutrient content when washed and boiled in water. When these kernels are blended with non-fortified rice,
typically at a ratio of 1:100, the result is Fortified Rice that is nearly identical to non-fortified rice in aroma, taste, and texture. It is then distributed for regular consumption.

Manufacturing process: blended fortified rice

What is Fortified Rice Kernel (FRK)?

Fortified Rice Kernel (FRK) is a reconstituted rice grain made from rice flour, vitamins, and minerals using hot extrusion technology. This process is relatively simple and comprises the following five steps:
1. Mixing of raw material
2. Passing raw material through the extrusion process
3. Drying of the finished product
4. Storage
5. Packaging

Process of rice fortification

The major step for producing Fortified Rice include:
1. Sourcing/ Producing of Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK)
2. Blending FRK with 50 to 200 parts (generally 1:100) of raw milled rice polished raw or parboiled rice.
3. Quality assurance and control
4. Packaging

Major ingredients include:
i. Rice Flour
ii. Food Grade Vitamin and Mineral Premix per FSSAI guidelines
iii. FSSAI approved Acid regulators and emulsifiers (Pentasodium Triphosphate – INS 451 (i), Citric Acid INS 330 etc.)
iv. Potable Water (IS 10500 : 2012)

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)

GMPs are the procedures that should be followed from plant set-up until final product dispatch to assure food wholesomeness. GMP refers to the minimum sanitary and processing conditions required in a properly built processing plant. GMP includes cleanliness and sanitary requirements for personnel, building and facilities, and equipment and utensils, in addition to food-processing requirements and controls.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Fortified rice should be regularly checked at a defined frequency and should be inspected at all levels. To ensure the quality of the fortified rice, controls need to be applied at various levels. It is also imperative to inspect the quality of the fortified rice throughout the supply chain.

1. Quality management of the FRK
2. Food Safety and Quality Management at the mill
3. External testing – Lab empanelment

shelf life: The FRK produced should have a shelf life of a minimum of 12 months.

Rice fortification has the potential to have a wide impact, as it is a staple food for 65% of the Indian population, reaching the most vulnerable and poorest sections of the country. It has the highest offtake in the Government safety net programs such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), the Mid-Day Meal program (MDM), the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program with the potential to reach 800 million vulnerable people in India, especially women and children. The Government of India has included food fortification, including rice fortification, under the National Nutrition Mission (Poshan Abhiyan) as a complementary intervention to reduce the prevalence of anaemia and malnutrition in India.


  1. Department of Food & Public Distribution, Govt of India.
  2. WHO
  3. FSSAI
Micronutrient Premix

Selecting A Quality Micronutrient Premix

Micronutrient Premix is particularly a complicated commodity. Vitamins and minerals are made using various chemical compounds with different nutritional properties; the quality can vary tremendously and relatively sophisticated equipment and expertise are required to verify the quality of the premix produced.

To design and produce a high-quality premix you must have the knowledge of RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) values, the functionality of ingredients, interactions between ingredients, and nutrient physical characteristics.

Choosing the appropriate form of fortificant is important to minimize nutrient-nutrient as well as nutrient-food interactions and any resulting adverse effects. Iron, for example, is a difficult mineral to add to foods as the most bioavailable forms tend to promote fat oxidation resulting in the development of unacceptable sensory changes in the finished food.

Vitamin stability

The stability of vitamins is affected by a number of factors, such as temperature, moisture, oxygen, light, pH, minerals (especially iron and copper), vitamin-vitamin interactions, and other food components. Vitamin stability is affected most by heat, moisture, pH, and light, but given their chemical heterogeneity, vitamin losses in different foods vary considerably during both processing and storage of the final product. The most unstable vitamins are C, A, D, B1, and B12. Because of their multiple oxidation states, the presence of metal ions (iron and copper) accelerates the degradation of vitamins, especially vitamins C, A, and B1.

Fortification with several vitamins may give rise to vitamin-vitamin interactions that may accelerate the rate of breakdown of some vitamins; the best-known interactions are those among vitamins C, B1, B2, B12, and folic acid. The extent of these interactions is also dependent on the nature of the food product as well as on temperature, moisture level, pH, light, etc. during processing and storage.

Importance of Overages

To maintain the micronutrient levels declared on the product label throughout a product’s shelf life, the amount of vitamins added during processing needs to be higher than the levels reported on the label. The difference between the declared and formulated vitamin levels, termed “overage,” will be different for each food application. Vitamin overages are normally calculated as a percentage of the declared level:

Overage = (formulated vitamin level – declared level)/ declared level × 100.

Micronutrient bioavailability and organoleptic quality of fortified foods

The nature of the food or beverage vector will have considerable bearing on the fortification since organoleptic alterations caused by certain added micronutrients must be dealt with quite often.

The bioavailability of added micronutrients, especially minerals and trace elements, must also be taken into consideration. In these two respects, iron is undoubtedly the most difficult micronutrient to add to food, yet iron deficiency is the most widespread micronutrient deficiency in the world today. The choice of an iron-fortification compound depends primarily on the nature of the food itself, and is nearly always a compromise between maximal bioavailability and minimal organoleptic alteration. Soluble iron compounds such as ferrous sulphate are very well absorbed but can give rise to unacceptable colour and taste changes in some products.

In many cases, it is possible to improve the bioavailability of iron from foods by the addition of an appropriate amount of ascorbic acid. A molar ratio of ascorbic acid to iron of 2:1 often significantly enhances iron absorption, but the optimal ratio depends on the nature of the food or beverage, and especially on the levels of other enhancers and inhibitors of iron absorption in the product.

Mineral interactions and bioavailability

Interactions between minerals can also have implications for mineral bioavailability in multiply fortified products. Iron, zinc, and calcium have been the most studied in this respect. For example, in the absence of phytic acid, the effect of calcium on zinc absorption is low. However, when phytic acid is present, calcium significantly inhibits zinc absorption. Likewise, oral iron supplements significantly inhibit inorganic zinc retention when consumed simultaneously at iron-to-zinc ratios as low as 1:1 .

Designing micronutrient premixes

Once the appropriate application for fortification has been identified, the next step is to design the micronutrient premix(es), as a function of the:

» micronutrient requirements and status of the target consumer,
» micronutrient levels in the raw materials to be used,
» estimated processing and storage losses (as above),
» expected homogeneity of mixing.

For fortifying with both minerals and vitamins, two premixes are generally used, one for minerals and another for vitamins, in order to minimize metal-catalysed degradation of vitamins during storage of the premix. Usually, a small quantity of the premixes is sent to the customers for preliminary, small-scale production trials. Complete micronutrient analyses of these trial products are then carried out to calculate the final specifications of the premixes.

Quality control in food fortification

Fortification of staple or processed foods requires properly designed and resourced quality control systems. Neither government legislation nor industrial specifications for food fortification will be effective without adequate quality control, both at the production site and in central laboratories. Reliable quality control of the addition of micronutrients to foods can only be obtained by the careful use of appropriate and validated analytical techniques in the hands of trained analysts. Validation of analytical methods involves the establishment of performance characteristics such as specificity, sensitivity, working concentration range, the limit of detection, the limit of quantitation, ruggedness, accuracy, and precision.

The production of quality premix thus deserves careful and professional attention. Product quality must be built into and not merely tested in the product.

Monitoring of all the critical points affecting the quality of premix is the best solution for minimizing the deviations from standards. It is only through well-organized, adequately staffed, and accurately performed process and formulation controls that a desired quality of the premix may be achieved.


  1. Denis Barcl, Multiple fortifications of beverages – SAGE Journals
  2. WHO – Guidelines on food fortification with micronutrients

Fortified Instant Noodles Improve Nutrient Intake

Consumption of instant noodles is increasing in Asia. Fortifying wheat flour with vitamins and minerals may improve nutrient intake in Asia.

Researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine in Louisiana, US, have found that fortified instant wheat noodles retain most of their nutrients after cooking and that added vitamins or minerals, with the exception of thiamin, do not remarkably alter the taste or texture of instant noodles.

The increasing demand for instant noodles in Asia demonstrates opportunity for food manufacturers to fortify wheat flour to reduce nutritional deficiencies in the region.

“Wheat flour fortification is a well-accepted practice globally to reduce the risk of anaemia caused by nutritional deficiencies and neural tube defects caused by insufficient folic acid. However, wheat flour fortification has yet to become routine practice in Asia even though wheat-based foods are the second most commonly consumed staple food after rice in most countries,” according to the researchers.

While the demand for instant noodles are increasing, it is likely that consumers of instant noodles are individuals in the lower and middle income turning to quick meal, revealed the study. Nevertheless, fortification of wheat flour used for instant noodle production has a huge potential in improving dietary micronutrient intake, especially among vulnerable populations in Asia.

“One framework for the design of food fortification programs posits that several components of scientific evidence are needed to ensure effectiveness. Before any food is fortified with vitamins and minerals to improve the nutrient intake of a population, several factors should be considered — potential for impact, nutrient retention and bioavailability, sensory changes, efficacy and effectiveness,” wrote the researchers.

The study found that instant noodles produced from fortified wheat flour have the potential to increase nutrient intakes. It also has high levels of nutrient retention after production, storage and cooking, without causing significant changes in sensory characteristics. This is applicable to all reported nutrients with the exception of thiamin.

“If evidence shows that these criteria are met, then large-scale food fortification may be an effective way to increase nutrient intake among the population,” wrote the researchers.

Demand for instant noodles made with wheat flour has increased from 92.2 million servings in 2009 to 106 million servings in 2013, showing a three percent yearly growth. The bulk of these servings were sold in China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam and India. This trend is characterised by the population in the region turning to convenience foods which requires little preparation.

Credit & Source – Asia Pacific Food Industry 

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