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 the dominant staple food crop of approximately half of the population worldwide. 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 mass fortification programs challenging.
Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains or spraying of the surface of ordinary rice grains in several layers with a vitamin and mineral mix to form a protective coating. Rice can also be extruded and shaped into partially precooked grain-like structures resembling rice grains, which can then blended with natural polished rice. A technical challenge is to produce fortified rice that resembles natural rice and resists normal meal preparation and cooking processes.
Why Rice Fortification?
Fortifying rice makes it more nutritious by adding vitamins and minerals in the post – harvest phase; many of which are lost during the milling and polishing process. Rice fortification may be considered as having the highest potential to fill the gap in current staple food fortification programs as it is the staple food of 65 percent of the Indian population and reaches the most vulnerable and poorer section – with the highest uptake in the government safety net programmes .The food and civil supplies department of each state empanels a number of rice millers in each district for regular supply of rice to the FCI, from which it is distributed to the social safety net schemes.
Source: FSSAI, WHO