Adding micronutrients to rice: how, why, and how much (On fortification)

Source: Indian Express

What is the news?

In his Independence Day speech, Indian PM announced the fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes, including the public distribution system (PDS) and midday meals in schools, by 2024.

Background
Must Read: Food Fortification of India – Explained
How rice fortification is done in India?

Various technologies are available for rice fortification, such as coating and dusting. For rice fortification in India, ‘extrusion’ is considered to be the best technology. This involves the production of fortified rice kernels (FRKs) from a mixture using an extruder machine.

The fortified rice kernels are then blended with regular rice to produce fortified rice.

Extrusion technology
  • 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 a twin-screw extruder with heating zones, which produces kernels similar in shape and size to rice.
  • These kernels are dried, cooled and packaged for use.

FRK has a shelf life of at least 12 months. As per guidelines issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the shape and size of the fortified rice kernel should “resemble the normal milled rice as closely as possible”.

Cost of fortification

The Ministry estimates that the cost of producing FRK with three micronutrients — iron, folic acid, and vitamin B-12 — will come to around Rs 0.60 per kg. This cost will be shared by the Centre and the states. The government will pay this cost to rice millers.

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