Adding micronutrients to rice: how, why, and how much

Speaking on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes, including the public distribution system (PDS) and school dinners, by 2024.

What is rice fortification?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) defines fortification as “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food in order to improve the nutritional quality of food and provide public health benefits with minimal health risk”.

In other words, rice enrichment is a process of adding micronutrients to ordinary rice. The micronutrients are added taking into account dietary needs.

There are various technologies for rotting rice, such as coating and dusting. For rice fortification in India, ‘extrusion’ is considered the best technology. This involves the production of reinforced rice kernels (FRKs) from a blend using an extruder.

The fortified rice kernels are then mixed with plain rice to produce fortified rice.

How does the extrusion technology work to produce FRK?

In extrusion technology, dry rice flour is mixed with a premix of micronutrients and water is added to this mixture. This mixture then goes into an extruder with two screws with heating zones, which produce kernels that look like rice in shape and size. These kernels are dried, cooled and packed for use. FRK has a shelf life of at least 12 months.

According to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the form and size of the enriched risks should “resemble the normal ground rice as closely as possible”. According to the guidelines, the length and width of the grain must be 5 mm and 2.2 mm, respectively.

But why is it necessary to enrich rice?

India has a very high level of malnutrition among women and children. According to the Ministry of Food, every second woman in the country is anemic and every third child is crippled. India ranks 94th out of 107 countries Global hunger index (GHI), which puts it in the category of ‘severe hunger’.

Fastening food is considered to be one of the most suitable methods to combat malnutrition. Rice is one of India’s staple foods consumed by about two thirds of the population. Intake of rice per. Per capita in India is 6.8 kg per month. Therefore, fortification of rice with micronutrients is an opportunity to supplement the diet of the poor.

What are the standards for fortification?

According to the Ministry’s guidelines, 10 g of FRK must be mixed with 1 kg of ordinary rice.

According to FSSAI standards, 1 kg of fortified rice will contain the following: iron (28 mg-42.5 mg), folic acid (75-125 micrograms) and vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 micrograms). Rice can also be fortified with zinc (10 mg-15 mg), vitamin A (500-750 micrograms RE), vitamin B-1 (1 mg-1.5 mg), vitamin B-2 (1.25 mg-1), 75 mg), vitamin B-3 (12.5 mg-20 mg) and vitamin B-6 (1.5 mg-2.5 mg) per Kg.

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Should fortified rice be cooked differently?

Preparation of fortified rice does not require any special procedure. The rice must be cleaned and washed in the normal way before cooking. After cooking, fortified rice retains the same physical properties and micronutrients that it had before cooking.

What is India’s fortification capacity?

According to the ministry, nearly 2,690 rice factories have installed blending units for the production of fortified rice, and the current blending capacity is 13.67 lakh tons in 14 central states. FRK production has increased from 7,250 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes within 2 years.

Existing rice factories need to be upgraded to fortifications. The cost of the upgrade varies from mill to mill depending on the amount of rice produced. According to the ministry, an investment of around 15-20 lakh Rs would be required to upgrade a rice mill with operating capacity 4-5 tons / hour.

What will the cost of fortification be?

The Ministry estimates that the cost of producing FRK with three micronutrients – iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12 – will be around Rs 0.60 per liter. Kg. This award is shared by the Center and the States. The government will pay this cost to rice cutters.

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How can a recipient identify that she is getting fortified rice and not plain rice?

Fortified rice will be packed in jute bags with the logo (‘+ F’) and the line “Enriched with iron, folic acid and vitamin B12” mandatory printed on the package.

Has the government distributed hardened rice in the past?

In 2019-20, the ministry launched a centrally sponsored pilot scheme, ‘Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under PDS’, for three years with a total budget expenditure of Rs 174.64 crore. The pilot scheme focuses on 15 districts in 15 states – Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.

According to the ministry, six states, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, have begun distributing fortified rice as part of the pilot scheme, with approximately 2.03 lakh tonnes spread through June 2021. Four other states are expected to launch in September.

Has another country tried this?

According to the ministry, seven countries have mandates for rice enrichment – the United States, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands.

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