Food Fortification: Why Added Nutrients are Necessary in Staple Foods

It is rightly said that you are what you eat. Nutrition plays such an important role for our well-being that it shouldn’t be neglected or taken for granted. We often fail to realise that how we live today will show effects when we grow older. However, while some of us have the luxury of altering our diet according to our likes and dislikes, there are several others who need to make the most of the handful of food ingredients that are available at hand. Thus came the concept of fortified foods.

In today’s time, we all are familiar with iodised salt or calcium enriched milk, which are a result of a mass effort to tackle malnutrition. Food fortification basically refers to the process of adding essential micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, to food staples to make them more nutritious.

This is done because sometimes post agriculture, the food products may lack certain vital nutrients due to poor soil conditions or other environmental factors. Also, in some regions the normal diet of the population lacks variety, where they consume only limited food items leading to dietary deficiencies. For example, one often hears tales of farmers living on a meal comprising boiled rice, a pinch of salt and a green chilli; or whole wheat rotis with pickle on the side.

“According to the National Survey data, around 70% of preschool children suffer from iron deficiency, while 85% of preschool children suffer from sub-clinical Vit. A deficiency. Many birth defects are caused due to unavailability of adequate nutrients, 50-70% of which can be prevented. The success of food fortification is evident from the early 1920s, with the first cases of fortification conducted successfully in both Switzerland and USA. From then on, many countries adopted this practice. Currently, as many as 83 countries around the world have, in one way or the other, mandated fortification.

The Salt Iodization program was one of the first Food Fortification programs that were a tremendous hit, in terms of reducing the rate of goiter. Few State governments, with aid from certain public health programs, are implementing wheat fortification with iron and folic acid,” says Mr. Ashwin Bhadri, CEO of Equinox Labs.