Micronutrient deficiency is a form of malnutrition that happens in the absence of essential vitamins and minerals on our food that are required in small amounts for body to grow and function.
Hidden hunger – is the name given to micronutrient deficiency as the symptom of deficiency is not always acutely visible. According to WHO more than two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency. Thus, Micronutrient deficiency is an important global health issue. Deficiency of micronutrients in food has huge impact on health and leads to several types of conditions including – infections, intestinal worms, anemia, poor pregnancy, mental retardation, blindness and general losses of productivity and potential, obesity, impaired physical and cognitive development and increased risk of morbidity in children.
Indian Government has taken a huge step to combat micronutrient deficiency and to improve citizens health.
To overcome the deficiency of micronutrients in citizens Govt of India is encouraging enrichment of food items with micronutrients.
Minister of State for Health and family welfare Mr. Ashwini Kumar Choubey said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha “The Government of India in order to promote fortification as a means to address micro nutrient deficiencies FSSAI has operationalized the draft Food Safety and Standards regulations regarding fortification of foods”.
The regulation includes provisions regarding fortification of food articles like wheat flour, milk, edible oil, salt and rice with vitamins and minerals. All the major oil producers in India are voluntarily fortifying at least one brand in their product portfolios.
Under FSSAI regulation in 2011 only the sale of iodized salt is permitted for direct human consumption. And, similarly adding synthetic vitamin A is must in Vanaspati oil for consumer consumption.
To improve women and children health, Women and Child development ministry have advised the use of double fortified salt with iron and iodine, wheat four with iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12 and edible oil with vitamin A and D under their integrated child development scheme and mid-day meal scheme.
Mr. Choubey also added that FSSAI may continue fortification of food items from time to time under the guidance and regulation of the central or State Governments in consultation with stakeholders. To promote large scale fortification of food and to promote fortified food businesses FSSAI has established Food Fortification Resource Center in collaboration with Tata Trusts and NGOs in the field of nutrition.