Almost 50-90 per cent of the Indian population, across all socio-economic groups, suffers from vitamin A and D deficiencies.
New Delhi: Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali is all set to foray into fortified food. In a bid to fight vitamin A and D deficiency, all major oil manufacturers, including Patanjali, have decided to adopt fortification norms for their edible oil variants and will fortify the edible oil with vitamin A and D within the next three months.
In a recent meeting held at the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the edible oil industry partners, industry associations, academia and the development sector, including ‘Patanjali’, resolved to adopt fortification of all their edible oil variants as an “industry norm” and have agreed to initiate fortification within 8-12 weeks.
The move gains significance as government’s National Institute of Nutrition research reveals that there is a high prevalence of vitamin A and D deficiencies amongst Indian population. Almost 50-90 per cent of the Indian population, across all socio-economic groups, suffers from vitamin A and D deficiencies. The fortification of edible oils with vitamin A and D offers the most feasible and cost-effective intervention, as India has a fairly high consumption of edible oils, ranging from 12-18 kg/ per annum per person. India meets this demand by making available 217.09 lakh tons of edible oils in the country, which includes an import of 127.31 lakh tons of edible oils.
“Food fortification has a great potential to enrich the nutritional quality of various foods. It is encouraging to see such a traction and commitment within the food industry to initiate fortification of foods. This would indeed help India to improve the nutritional status of millions of people, both the poor and the rich,” FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal said.
To tackle malnutrition, the FSSAI recently recommended adoption of fortified food in government schemes and notified standards for fortification of salt, oil, milk, atta, maida and rice. While separate standards have been set for fortification of oil with vitamin A and D, the FSSAI recommended the manufacturers to adopt small packaging of edible oil so as to tackle issues related to the sale of loose edible oil. “FSSAI has laid standards for fortification of edible oil with vitamins A and D, and has specified regulations that prohibit the sale of loose edible oil.”
Importantly, several state and UT governments like Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, etc. have already started providing fortified oil through the public funded programmes like the PDS, ICDS and MDM.