Are proteins required in fortified food? What does FSSAI say?
Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body, and are one of the building blocks of the body that can also serve as a fuel source. As a fuel, proteins contain 4 kcal per gram of energy, which is the same as carbohydrates, but unlike lipids, which contain 9 kcal per gram. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of proteins.
Proteins are made up of long polymer chains of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. During human digestion, proteins are broken down in the stomach to smaller polypeptide chains by the stomach hydrochloric acid and protease enzymes. This is crucial for the breakdown of proteins supplied in the diet to generate the essential amino acids, which cannot be synthesized in the body. There are a total of 20 amino acids, of which 9 are essential and 11 are non-essential. The Essential and Non-essential amino acids are tabulated below.
Table 1: Amino acids – the building blocks of proteins
|Essential amino acids||Non-essential amino acids|
Humans need the essential amino acids in certain ratios. Some protein sources contain amino acids in a more or less “complete” sense. Animal sources of protein include meats, dairy products, fish and eggs. Vegetarian sources of protein include whole grains, pulses, legumes, soy, and nuts. Vegetarians get enough essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins.
Protein fortification of food and health drinks. Is there a real need?
There is an increasing demand for nutritional health food products fortified with proteins. Protein is a popular addition to foods and beverages, most notably in the weight management and sports nutrition segments of the market. Protein products for food and beverages come in many forms, oftentimes as powdered-beverage mixes or bars, but an increasingly popular category is protein-enriched beverages.
These protein fortified beverages are particularly suited for the health and well-being of the health conscious consumer and aging population. Both vegetable and dairy proteins are key ingredients in these products, but unfortunately since they are difficult to absorb and are bitter in taste, they are sometimes less suitable for use in final products. Enzymatic modification can help obtain the ideal properties from raw materials and adapt them to the requirements of the final product. This reduces the bitterness and improves protein solubility and facilitates production of protein enhanced nutritional drinks.
In the area of fortified health foods, many changes have come about also. Wheat flour is a staple for Indians, who enjoy “chapattis” with vegetables and other preparations. Nowadays, the wheat flour is available as “Multigrain Atta” that is fortified with proteins.
Therefore, protein fortified foods are particularly beneficial for special target populations like athletes, old aged people, convalescents, as well as the malnourished. Importantly, since much of the Indian women and children are still under-nourished, protein fortified foods like “Multigrain Atta” will be of special value for this particular target population. Moreover, in this age of processed food, the protein content often decreases during processing, and therefore, fortifying with proteins will replenish the lost proteins and maintain the nutrient value of the food product.
What does the FSSAI recommend?
The FSSAI recommends that various types of food, including reconstituted milk and milk products can be fortified with proteins within permissible limits. The various types of food are tabulated below along with the recommended protein values.
Table 2: FSSAI recommendations for protein fortified foods
|Food type||Protein content|
|Milk (all types, including evaporated, condensed, powdered etc.)||Not less than 34%|
|Ice cream; |
Medium fat ice cream
|Not less than 3.5%|
|Low fat ice cream||Not less than 3%|
|Frozen dessert / frozen confection; |
Medium fat frozen dessert / frozen confection
|Not less than 3.5%|
|Low fat frozen dessert / frozen confection||Not less than 3%|
|Milk ice or milk lolly (Kulfi)||Not less than 3.5%|
|Food for infant nutrition||Not less than 12%|
|Infant formula (Spray-dried milk)||Not less than 10% but not more than 16%|
|Premature / Low birth weight infant milk substitutes||2.25 – 2.75 grams per 100 kcal|
|Milk-cereal based complementary food; Processed cereal based complementary food||Not less than 15%|
|Follow-up formula complementary food||Not less than 3.0 gram per 100 available calories (or 0.7 gram per 100 available kilojoules). Not more than 5.5 g per 100 available calories (or 1.3 g per 100 available kilojoules).|
|Chakka||Minimum 30% by dry weight|
|Shrikhand||Not less than 9% by dry weight|
|Yoghurt||Not less than 3.3%|
|Fruit yoghurt||Not less than 2.6%|
|Whey powder||Not less than 10%|
|Acid whey powder||Not less than 7%|
|Non-animal rennet casein||Not less than 84% by dry weight|
|Acid casein||Not less than 90% by dry weight|
|Caseinate||Not less than 88% by dry weight|
|Protein rich (Paushtik) atta||Not less than 12.5% by dry weight|
|Protein rich (Paushtik) maida||Not less than 12.5% by dry weight|
|Malted milk food without cocoa powder||Not less than 12.5% by dry weight|
|Malted milk food with cocoa powder||Not less than 11.25% by dry weight|
|Malt food||Not less than 7% by weight|
|Solvent extracted soya flour / groundnut flour||Not less than 48% by dry weight|
|Solvent extracted sesame flour||Not less than 47% by dry weight|
|Solvent extracted coconut flour||Not less than 22% by dry weight|