Fortification of wheat flour with iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 offers one of the most feasible and cost-effective strategy to combat anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies.
The FSSAI said the companies already have begun the process of fortifying wheat flour, with their products, including Aashirwaad, Pillsbury, Annapurna, Patanjali and Nature Fresh, expected to be available in different regions by July-August, with full scale up by December.
The decision to fortify wheat flour follows a series of meetings convened by the FSSAI over the past two months with industry players and development partners that have been associated with flour fortification of wheat flour over the past few years.
Raj Kapoor, managing director at AIBTM, has offered to provide all the technical support to the wheat flour milling and baking industry to initiate fortification of their products.
“Fortification of staple foods, including wheat flour is gaining momentum,” the FSSAI said. “It is strongly backed by the scientific panel on fortification, medical experts and the academia. Fortification of wheat flour with iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 offers one of the most feasible and cost-effective strategy to combat anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies that impact more than 50% of India’s population across the population groups and geographies, affecting all socio-economic classes equally. India has a fairly high consumption of wheat flour with an average per person consumption of about 200-250 grams per day, equaling to an overall annual consumption of 63.3 million tonnes.”
The companies also have agreed to jointly promote consumer-facing awareness by including promotion of the national logo for fortified foods on their products, the FSSAI said.
“Fortification standards and a logo for fortified foods released by FSSAI recently, has provided a rallying point for food businesses to take up fortification on a large scale,” said Pawan Agarwal, chief executive officer of the FSSAI. “With this we can see a lot of traction amongst the food businesses to undertake fortification of entire range of their food products on a voluntary basis. FSSAI has also established a Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC) to facilitate and support food businesses in their fortification efforts. I am reasonably optimistic that fortified staple food will soon be available in the open market and most states will soon switch over to using fortified foods in the government programs.”