Fortification is the process by which manufacturers add micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals to food. The purpose is to reduce the rate of common deficiencies and diseases that would otherwise occur in the absence of these nutrients. This is especially important in regions where the soil — and thus the plants that grow in the soil — is nutrient poor. Though fortification is sometimes optional, the federal government mandates the inclusion of certain nutrients in cereal, salt and even milk because of concerns over public health.
Milk Fortification with Vitamin A and Vitamin D
Milk is a rich source of high quality protein, calcium and of fat-soluble vitamins A and D. Vitamins A and D are lost when milk fat is removed during processing. Many countries have a mandatory provision to add back the vitamins removed as it is easily doable. It is called replenishment as the nutrients lost during processing are added back.
Fortification of milk with Vitamin A and Vitamin D is required in India because of the widespread deficiencies present in the population. A Recent National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) survey and a Report of the expert group of ICMR in 2012 has stated that India has very high burden of Vitamin A and D deficiencies, amongst both young children and adults particularly in urban areas are physically less active and have a very limited exposure to sunlight.
Since milk is consumed by all population groups, fortification of milk with certain micronutrients is a good strategy to address micronutrient malnutrition. India is the largest producer of milk in the world with 146.3 million tonnes of production and per capita availability of 322 grams per day . The dairy industry in India has progressed from a situation of scarcity to that of plenty.
Milk Fortification: Standards
Milk is one of the most nutritious foods. Vitamins A and D though important for various bodily functions and naturally present in milk are removed along with fat when the milk is processed to produce toned, double-toned and skimmed milk.
At the processing level, four types of fluid milk are commonly produced in India: Fortifying standardized (Fat – 4.5%), toned (Fat – 3%), double toned (Fat – 1.5%) and skimmed milk (Fat < 0.5%) with vitamin A and vitamin D will ensure that these will also reach consumers who purchase low-fat milk and provide them with significant amounts of their daily needs of these vitamins.
The technology to fortify milk is simple. All the vitamins and minerals that can be added to milk are available in dry powder form as well as in the liquid form. The fat-soluble vitamins are also available in an oily form as well as in the water soluble form. The fortification process does not require any sophisticated equipment.