World Milk Day established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is celebrated every year on 1st June all over the world. World Milk Day also highlights the contributions of the dairy sector to sustainability, economic development, livelihoods, and nutrition. World Milk Day offers a perfect opportunity to spread the message about drinking milk every day as it is part of a balanced diet. This year the Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC), housed in FSSAI, observed the World Milk Day by commemorating the theme “Raise a Glass – Say Cheers” with Fortified Milk. The event was held to create awareness around food fortification and the cost-effective benefits it offers to everyone without just a little change in food habits.
It is a well-known fact that Vitamin A deficiency is becoming a public health concern and also that growing Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is rampant in the Indian subcontinent, with an occurrence of 70%–100% in the general population. (Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health). FFRC took this opportunity of World Milk Day to spread the message of consuming milk fortified with Vitamin D and A through interactive and engagement activities via on-ground activation and social media campaign all through the day.
FFRC spread the message that the main source of Vitamin D is sunlight exposure from (11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.). Some foods like mushrooms, fatty fish, etc. can provide Vitamin D in small quantities. Fortification of milk with Vitamins A and D is a cost-effective and sustainable strategy to address the rising incidences of VDDs among Indians. It not only deals with the problem of micronutrient malnutrition effectively but has several other benefits for the consumers. Fortification of staple foods does not
- require people to change their dietary habits
- affect the taste, smell or color of the fortified food and has a widespread reach amongst vulnerable groups.
To help consumers in identifying fortified food through just a glance, a Logo known as “+F” for fortified foods has been notified by FSSAI for Fortified food products.
On the occasion of World Milk Day, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, stated that since milk is such an integral part of daily balanced diets, observing World Milk Day helps to create awareness in the general public about the importance of consuming fortified milk. He also pointed out that opting for foods that carry the +F symbol is a simple and inexpensive way to address micronutrient deficiencies without any radical change in behavior or eating patterns. Opting for milk that is fortified with vitamins A and D is an effective means to inculcate healthy eating habits and create awareness around VDD which is prevalent in both young children and adults, equally. He also urged people to pledge for “Eating Right; Eating Fortified” mentioning that fortified foods are now readily available across the country.
The event saw several engaging activities that were intended to generate strong public interest and participation. Activation in three of Delhi-NCRs most frequented malls, namely;
Select City Walk, Saket, GIP, Noida and Ambience, Gurgaon with mascots created by FSSAI, ‘Master and Miss Sehat’ drew the interest of the general public and educated them on the importance of fortified milk. Major attractions were the various child-centric activities like face painting, tattoo making and quiz competition for adults and these were carried out to encourage consumption of milk every day. Informative standees, throughout Delhi, were placed in Mother Dairy and DMS outlets to inform consumers about the benefits of fortified milk. The day saw an overwhelming response from people who participated in related event activities. Parents opined that the activities were a great source in educating everyone about the importance of giving children and other family members, only fortified milk. +F all the way!
FFRC believes that this event will further the importance of making fortified milk a part of people’s day-to-day lives as there was all enthusiastic participation from citizens and FFRC partners alike. FFRC also has an on-going social media engagement plan to encourage consumers to buy and drink fortified food products every day. To bring about a change in the present situation, FFRC, in collaboration with Tata Trusts, World Bank, NDDB, and GAIN, plans to take forward, fortification of milk with vitamins D and A. FFRC is also working to scale up the process of milk fortification in India by engaging FBOs, States and ensuring the supply of fortified milk through government programmes namely ICDS, MDM, and PDS.