The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has now constituted a Scientific Panel on “Food Fortification and Nutrition”.
The Panel will identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet in general as well as in specific target groups based on diet surveys and credible scientific evidence, define strategies to address nutritional needs of the general population and vulnerable groups, and review the standards for all suitable food fortifying vehicles,in addition to the healthy dietary intake of Fat, Sugar & Salt.
It will also address regulatory and related technological issues, review proposals from industry using modern risk assessment methods, and prescribe standard sampling and test methods for effective monitoring, surveillance and enforcement of the relevant regulations.
The Scientific Panel has 11 distinguished experts and scientists and includes Dr Ambrish Mithal from Medanta, Dr C. S.Pandavand Major General (Dr) R. K.Marwaha (Retd) from AIIMS, Dr AnuraKurpad from St. John’s Medical College, Dr Yogeshwar Shukla from CSIR- Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Prof. H. P. S.Sachdev from Sita Ram Bharatia Institute of Science and Research, Dr K. M. Nair from National Institute of Nutrition, Dr P. Ramachandran from Nutrition Foundation of India, Dr Sumit Arora from National Dairy Research Institute, Dr Sirimavo Nair from the MS University, Baroda, and Prof.Harsulkar from BharatiVidyapeeth.
Apart from these, members from Scientific Panels dealing with fortification of food such as wheat flour, refined flour, rice, milk, edible oil and salt will also be a part of this Panel.
In addition, Ministries of Women & Child Development as well as Health & Family Welfare; Department of Biotechnology; and the Indian Council of Medical Research will also be working with the Panel.
Micronutrient Malnutrition Disorders are ubiquitously prevalent in all age groups of the population.
According to National Family Health Survey (2006-07) and the World Bank (2006), about 70% preschool children suffer from iron deficiency anaemia and 57% preschool children have sub-clinical Vitamin A deficiency respectively.
Further, as per the World Bank (2006), Iodine deficiency is endemic in 85 per cent of districts. Moreover, folate deficiency which leads to Neural Tube Defects (NTDS)are the most common congenital malformation in Indian context with an incidence that varies between 0.5-8/1000 births. It is estimated that 50-70% of these birth defects are preventable.
FSSAI being the standard setting and regulatory body has taken a step in public health domain to address these and other vitamin deficiency-related Malnutrition Disorders through fortification of food.
It may be noted that FSSAI had earlier brought out Draft Regulations for fortified food namely “Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Food) Regulations, 2016 which were operationalized at the National Summit on Food Fortification held in mid-October, 2016.
Based on the comments received on the draft Regulations, the Panel will finalize the Regulations.
As a consequence of the National Summit, FSSAI has launched the Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC) to promote large-scale fortification of food across India. An online portal of FFRC to nudge and facilitate food businesses and bring fortified foods into Government programs was launched on November 17, 2016 in the presence of Mr. Bill Gates.