FSSAI urged to drop move to make food fortification mandatory

Civil society groups and individuals have urged the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to abandon the move to make synthetic/chemical fortification of foods mandatory in the country.

In a letter to the Assistant Director, FFRC (Food Fortification Resource Centre), over 170 individuals and organisations, along with the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA Kisan Swaraj), described the move as pro-corporate and unnecessary. The long-term costs of fortification will be profound and irreversible, they added.

''Mandatory fortification will lead to irreversible infrastructural and market shifts, including consolidation of corporate power,'' they said, adding that current fortification schemes will create a market of over 3,000 crores for just five big companies.

In January, the FSSAI had issued draft regulations on mandatory fortification of edible oil and milk with vitamin A and D. It has also proposed to make rice fortification mandatory with vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid starting 2024, ASHA Kisan Swaraj said in a statement.

Economic impact

The FSSAI decision will have serious economic impacts on consumers and informal players such as small-time rice millers, cold-press oil mills, farmers and local enterprises who will not be able to make the heavy investments required, the statement noted.

“In undernourished populations such as India’s, the key problem is calorie and especially protein inadequacy as a result of monotonous cereal-based diets along with low consumption of vegetables and animal protein. Adding one or two synthetic chemical vitamins and minerals will not solve the larger problem, and in undernourished populations can lead to toxicity, including gut inflammation,'' the statement said.

The letter warned the government against opting for a blanket approach to address the issue of malnutrition. The simple and complete solution would be to improve diets and diversify them via widely available nutrient dense vegetables, millets, animal protein, dairy, it said.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 11:41:34 AM |

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