Fortified rice: Surveyors find that consumers fear traces of ‘plastic rice’

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A fact-finding team of civil society activists has found serious issues with the Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice.

About Fortification of Rice Programme
Rice Fortification
Source: Business Standard

Recently, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for the supply of fortified rice throughout the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the following schemes by 2024 in a phased manner:

National Food Security Act (NFSA), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman-PM POSHAN [erstwhile Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)]

Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) of the Government of India in all States and Union Territories (UTs).

Note: Earlier, the Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System” was implemented for a period of 3 years beginning from 2019-20. Eleven (11) States successfully distributed the fortified rice in their identified districts (one district per State) under this pilot scheme.

What were the issues identified by activists with the Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice?

Firstly, there is a perception on the ground and fear that ‘plastic-rice’ has been mixed with normal rice in the name of fortification. Due to this, a vast majority of women were picking out and throwing away the Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) added to rice.

Secondly, the beneficiaries of fortified rice have complained of abdominal discomfort, gastritis, diarrhoea and nausea after eating fortified rice.

Thirdly, the programme was being implemented without proper labelling and warning about its adverse impact on people with sickle-cell anaemia and Thalassemia.

Must read: Food Fortification in India – Explained, pointwise

Source: The post is based on the article “Fortified rice: Surveyors find that consumers fear traces of ‘plastic rice’” published in Business Standard on 12th May 2022.

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