The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is drawing up guidelines on fortifying rice, milk, wheat flour, edible oil and salt.
Existing food standards require salt to be fortified with iodine. According to the draft guidelines circulated among stakeholders, 850-1,100 parts per million iron can now be added to salt to increase the level of micronutrients. The move acquires significance since it opens up the value-added market for branded commodity players.
The final guidelines will be released on October 16 during a special FSSAI food summit in Delhi. FSSAI's Chief Executive Officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal said the guidelines would help address the issue of malnutrition. "This is the first step, there is more work we will do in this area," he said.
Companies, scientists and researchers are expected to attend the two-day summit to discuss food fortification. "We will study the guidelines to see how we can come out with food that fits the requirements," said S Nagarajan, managing director, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetables.
"We are working in the area of value-added or premium milk. So allowing for fortification in milk will boost this effort," he added.
R S Sodhi, managing director of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, which manufactures the Amul brand of dairy products, welcomed the development.
The draft guidelines say toned, double toned or skimmed milk can be fortified with a minimum level of 770 international units of Vitamin A and 550 international units of Vitamin D. Edible oil can be fortified with 25 international units of Vitamin A and 4.5 international units of Vitamin D, while wheat flour or atta can contain at least 20 milligrams (mg) of iron, 1,300 micrograms (ug) of folic acid and 10 ug of Vitamin B-12.
"We will explore how we can fortify our products now that the final guidelines are ready. Food companies can now think of trading up with fortification," said Anshu Malik, chief operating officer, Adani Wilmar, which manufactures the Fortune brand of edible oils.
Siraj Chaudhry, chairman, Cargill India, said companies now might have to build awareness among consumers of the need for micronutrients in food.
"Branded players consistently drove home the importance of iodine in salt, which helped in creating a market for it. Similarly, in other categories, there will be a need to build awareness," he added.