There is a growing concern of micronutrient deficiencies in India and this can be combated in a cost-effective manner, through a scientifically proven, globally recognised strategy -Food Fortification. It is recognised that the most effective way to deliver key micronutrients like Vitamin A and D to the population is to fortify milk. To encourage fortification of staples, FSSAI has recently issued Gazette notification of Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018 dated 2nd August 2018. The new standards have a range of limits with a lower and upper limit of Vitamin A and D. Fortification is, tried and tested strategy that has been implemented for decades in developed countries with successful results. Fortified staples merely provide 30-50% RDAs and therefore, milk fortification is a complimentary strategy in addition to dietary diversification and supplementation. One of the leading weekly peer-reviewed general medical journals ‘The Lancet’ has identified fortification as one of the most effective strategies in combating micronutrient malnutrition.
In order to scale up milk fortification, Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC), FSSAI in collaboration with TATA Trusts and NDDB held a ‘National Consultation on Milk Fortification’ on September 5th, 2018 at Vivanta by Taj – Ambassador, New Delhi. The objective of the consultation was to encourage the larger number of dairies in India to adopt milk fortification. Milk fortification does not change the dietary pattern of people. As much as 30 % of the milk is handled by organized industry in India and they fortify 21.53% of this milk. About 78 lakh litres per day (LLPD) of milk is fortified through 13 State Dairy Cooperatives and it reaches 52 million people across the country. Around 15 LLPD of milk is being fortified through private dairies.
As part of the consultation, companies that have been among the first to adopt milk fortification were also felicitated. Among Private dairies, Creamline Dairy Products Ltd received felicitation as an early adopter with a capacity of 2LLPD. Mother Dairy was felicitated as they pioneered milk fortification by fortifying approximately 30LLPDof their pouch milk and bulk vending milk across Delhi NCR and other regions. Jharkhand MilkFederation and Maahi Milk Producer Company were also felicitated for their outstanding work and success in milk fortification. The Managing Directors and CEO’s of these companies shared their experiences with the industry on Milk Fortification and their partnership with Tata Trusts and NDDB.
Chanakya Dairy, VRS Foods (Paras Dairy), Heritage Foods, Creamline Dairy, Kwality Foods, Hatson Agro product, Britannia, Nestle, Dairy Power Ltd, Goma Foods Pvt Ltd,Sunfresh Agro Industries Pvt Ltd, Milk Mantra are the some of the brands which have proactively adopted fortification and launched fortified milk in the open market. Major cooperative Federations like Orissa State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd., Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative DairyFederation Ltd., Jharkhand State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation Ltd., and Bihar State Milk Co-operative Federation Ltd. Chattisgarh state cooperative dairy federation Limited, Pradeshik DairyCooperative Federation Limited, West Assam Milk Union Limited etc. have also shown remarkable progress in last few months.
The consultation brought together around 35 private dairies and 10 State Cooperatives. Presentations were made by representatives from Tata Trusts, NDDB and FFRC – FSSAI on the various engagements with the Industry on Milk fortification and new standards were discussed along with the packaging and labelling requirements. An open house discussion happened around food fortification as a strategy, cost of fortification, and sources of the vitamin, quality assurance etc.
Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI in his remarks addressed several concerns about fortification. He stated that the standards for fortification are set by the scientific panel of eminent scientists and public health specialists who have decades of experience in the sector. The levels of fortification have been fine-tuned on the basis of the scientific evidence. Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the Indian population, the regulation has prescribed that the fortification must be done only from vegetarian sources. Also, the cost of fortification is minimal for all the staples, especially for milk which is less than 3 paisa/litre and does not have effect the price of the fortified milk.
Making an addition to the existing enabling environment, the FSSAI has also recently introduced the process of ‘Endorsement for fortification’. It is a simple process based on self- compliance wherein FBOs fortifying their product, shall undertake an endorsement by logging into the Food LicensingRegistration System (FLRS) with their existing username and obtain an endorsement. The step was well appreciated by the industry members.
The consultation ended with all the participating milk processors assuring their support to achieve the increased percentage of fortified milk by the end of this year.