The FSSAI has recently notified the draft Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016 and has set the standards of fortification for food items like rice, wheat flour, edible oil and milk, in addition to salt in Schedule I of the regulations. These regulations define “fortificant” as a substance added to food to provide micronutrients like vitamins, minerals or trace elements that are required in very small quantities and are vital to the well being of the individuals; and according to these regulations, fortificants does not include nutraceuticals or foods for special dietary uses.
The standards for the staple food products indicates the high priority of the government in addressing the issues of malnutrition and public health. The regulations also provide scope for mandatory fortification based on severity and extent of public health need as demonstrated by scientific evidence. The regulations also take note of other approaches for fortification including conventional breeding/ hybridization and suggests cooperation between FSSAI and other government departments in achieving the goal of providing wholesome food.
The food business operators/ manufacturers shall follow the standards for fortification of foods and ensure that the level of micronutrient in such fortified food does not fall below the minimum level specified in the schedule and does not exceed the highest amount of micronutrient that can safely be added to such food, as per international standards like Codex Alimentarius. The regulations also mandate the Packaging and Labeling Requirements and every package of fortified food shall carry the words “fortified with ………… (Name of the fortificant)” and the logo. The logo for fortified food will go a long way in helping the consumer in identifying the fortified product and understanding the goal of the fortification in the food product and increasing the consumer confidence in genuinely fortified products.
These regulations are notified as draft regulations for inviting comments and suggestions from the stakeholders. The enforcement of these regulations shall commence after the final regulations are notified in the Gazette of India.
When these regulations are ready for implementation it will give a good opportunity to ingredient companies to reach out to the small and medium scale food businesses in the proposed sectors. Currently there is lack of knowledge about usage, calculations, processing and storage conditions for fortification required in their products. Most of them are unaware about the losses during stability, overages and processing conditions required in order to retain the nutrient active throughout the shelf life of the product.This will be a good opportunity to the ingredients companies to come up with “commodity/ product specific” or “claim specific” nutrient premixes. From their experience in the sector, they can also handhold these small companies by demonstrating the technologies, establishing the dosages and overages in the products, helping in stability studies and analytical support, thereby creating a win-win deal both for the client and ingredient company.