New Delhi: Food fortification is the proven and effective strategy to meet nutritional needs across various sections of the society, Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel said on Sunday.
"Food fortification is a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children," she said at the inauguration of a National Summit on Fortification of Food to address interventions in combating micronutrient malnutrition in the country.
Food fortification is the addition of key vitamin and minerals to staple foods to improve their nutritional content and address a nutritional gap in a population.
Patel said that fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance.
"It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food. It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time. It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms," she said.
On the occasion, the minister also released the standards on fortification of foods and launched the food fortification logo at the event.
Emphasising on the need for the measure, Patel said that food fortification reinforces and supports existing nutrition improvement programmes and is part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition.
In her address, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Soumya Swaminathan said that nutrition is a major determinant of health.
"Macro and micro nutrients deficiency will lead to risk factors that may cause various diseases like TB and anaemia. ICMR has planned to conduct health and nutrition surveys to get first hand insights about nutritional values of the food consumed by the people of the country," said Swaminathan, who also laid stress on the need to raise awareness and educate people about a balanced diet.