Food regulator FSSAI is considering making it mandatory for edible oil manufacturers to fortify cooking oil with vitamins A and D, which help in boosting immunity.
“FSSAI is considering to make it mandatory to fortify edible oil with vitamins A and D so that people of India can enjoy better immunity with good health,” FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal said.
He was addressing a national webinar on edible oil fortification, organised by the Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC) under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in association with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a statement said on Saturday.
Fortification of edible oil will ensure that people belonging to different socio-economic strata have easy access to fortified edible oil across the country, Singhal said.
“India has a very high burden of malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies. A huge population in our country suffer from deficiency of vitamins A and D. Lack of these vitamins in our body can have adverse impact on morbidity, mortality, productivity and economic growth,” the statement said.
Vitamins A and D strengthen the immune system, which is critical in times of Covid-19 pandemic, it added. To facilitate the industry, Singhal said FFRC will also provide the necessary technical support required to enable fortification of edible oil.
At present, 69 per cent (7.94 million tonnes/annum edible oil) of packaged edible oil sold across pan-India is fortified, the statement said.
Tarun Vij, country director, GAIN, said, “The government’s mandate for scaling-up the process of edible oil fortification should go hand in hand with building capacities of the industry for producing quality assured edible oil fortified with vitamins A and D.” Citing the example of Rajasthan, where fortification of edible oil is being done since 2011, Vij said there is a substantial reduction in vitamin A deficiency among children (10-19 years) in the state.