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OILS AND FATS

Edible oil sector to adopt fortification with Vitamins A, D in 3 months
Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
All major players in the edible oil manufacturing and processing sector have decided to fortify all their variants with Vitamins A and D within the next three months. The decision was the outcome of a meeting convened by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in New Delhi recently.

Over 130 persons, representing edible oil industry partners, industry associations, academia and the development sector attended the meeting. Of these, 85 per cent were from the edible oil industry and its associations.

During the deliberations, industry partners, including Patanjali, resolved to adopt fortification of all their edible oil variants as an industry norm and have agreed to initiate the process within the next eight to twelve weeks.

According to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, “There is a high prevalence of Vitamin A and D deficiencies amongst the Indian population. Almost 50-90 per cent of the Indian population, across all socio-economic groups, suffers from vitamin A and D deficiencies.”

Fortification of edible oils with Vitamins A and D offers the most feasible and cost-effective intervention, as India has a fairly high consumption of edible oils, ranging between 12 and 18kg per annum per person. India meets this demand by making available 217.09 lakh tons of edible oils in the country, which includes an import of 127.31 lakh tons of edible oils.
 
During the meeting, technical issues and challenges with respect to edible oil fortification were discussed. This helped in creating an enabling environment that would help the industry in improving its trade practices.

In addition, issues related to the sale of loose edible oil were also discussed, and the industry was advised to adopt small packaging of edible oil, so that the issues of affordability of oil in larger packaging can be addressed and the sale of good-quality edible oil becomes consumer-friendly.

Stakeholders of the meeting also agreed to jointly promote consumer-facing awareness, including promotion of the national logo for fortified foods, symbolising better nutrition.

The nation’s health being paramount, FSSAI has laid standards for the fortification of edible oil with Vitamins A and D, and has specified regulations that prohibit the sale of loose edible oil. Since food safety and promotion of good health warrants public health interventions, this meeting provided a unique opportunity to engage with diverse actors from the public and private sectors, including a large number of medium and small industry partners; and work towards strengthening public-private partnerships.

At the behest of the governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the entire edible oil industry is already selling only fortified edible oil across the two states. The governments of several states and Union Territories (UTs), like Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh, have started providing fortified oil through the public funded programmes like the public distribution system (PDS), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the mid-day meal scheme (MDM).

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, stated, “Food fortification has a great potential to enrich the nutritional quality of various foods. It is encouraging to see such a traction and commitment within the food industry to initiate fortification of foods. This would indeed help India to improve the nutritional status of millions of people, both the poor and the rich.”

Edible oil processors also decided to come out with oils in small pouches in order to ensure an effective ban on the sale of loose oil in the country. The oil processors also decided to take up a nation-wide drive on awareness about repeated use of edible oil and total polar compound (TPC) standards being finalised by the FSSAI.
 
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