‘Food fortification to help eradicate undernutrition’

New Delhi (IANSlife) To avoid chronic undernutrition and eradicate malnutrition, fortifying food is one of the most cost-effective and reliable investment options, and is a solution for reducing micronutrient insufficiency in children and pregnant women, which has become more prevalent as a result of Covid-19, say experts.

Nutrition experts at National Institute of Food Technology and Entrepreneurship Management (NIFTEM), an institute under Ministry of Food Processing Industries, GAIN, an international development sector partner and Hexagon Nutrition, a food and nutraceutical company have recently joined hands to set up a Centre of Excellence for Food Fortification at NIFTEM.

“Despite substantial strides in food grain production, about 26 per cent of India’s population is considered food-insecure, and almost 50 percent of the population suffers from deficiencies of one or more micronutrients, i.e. of vitamins and minerals. The Centre of Excellence will help build healthier and more productive societies, by making available adequately and appropriately fortified staples, to all”, says a joint statement by them.

“Due to a lack of availability to meat, fish, fruits, and other non-rice goods, fortified foods are supplemented with vital vitamins and minerals that the impoverished part of the population would otherwise be unable to obtain. As a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, new options for enhancing immune systems by promoting food fortification have surfaced.

“Rice and oil fortification, as well as salt iodization, have already received attention. However, we still need to think about how other micronutrients can be combined with low-cost basic foods like wheat, maize flour, or milk,” they tell IANSlife.

This partnership will spearhead a food fortification drive aimed at eradicating malnutrition which has continued as a major challenge for the country.

“Nutrition is underestimated in India, and the country still has a long way to go to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry. To achieve progress in the fight against malnutrition in India, it’s important to recognise that the problem is complex and multifaceted and that everyone has a role to play.”

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