Thiruvananthapuram: With micronutrient deficiency, mainly iron and Vitamin A, among children is emerging as a major public health problem in Kerala, the Commissionerate of Food Safety is drawing up strategies to fortify staple foods including edible oil, wheat, rice, salt and milk. According to the statistics released by Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey, around 12.6% children aged between 1-4 years are anemic while 9.1 percent adolescents are anemic in the state. Also, 17.1 percent children from 1 to 4 years of age have Vitamin A deficiency and 17.2 percent of adolescents have Vitamin A deficiency.
The government is planning to introduce fortified ingredients for mid-day meal - the largest school-feeding safety net programme, which covers over 26, 54,807 beneficiaries. An official said that steps are on to introduce fortified staples in the public distribution system. "We are in talk with main players in the industry on the importance of fortification. Many of the dairy companies, edible oil manufacturers have started fortification. Milma, Murlya are among the companies selling fortified milk," said an official.
The Commissionerate of Food Safety authorities have presented the proposal to the state-level advisory committee chaired by the Chief Secretary.
The plan is to make available fortified products with the help of other departments including Civil Supplies, Education Department, Kudumbashree etc.
"Our effort is to actively engage with the food processing industry and food business operators to fortify cereals, salt, oil and milk with suitable micronutrients to ensure availability of fortified products for common citizens," said the official. According to statistics, 0.06 Million Metric Tons (MMT) of 0.17 MMT edible oil produced are being fortified in the state. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has defined and notified the 'standards of fortification' for staple foods.