Fortified rice: Added benefits, hidden costs?

On India’s 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the government will, by 2024, supply rice fortified with nutrients through the Public Distribution System (PDS) and food schemes targeting women and children. As a forerunner, to combat chronic anaemia and undernutrition, the Union ministry of consumer affairs, food & public distribution will distribute fortified rice through the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme and the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) from 2021-22, with a focus on 112 aspirational districts (those with poor socio-economic indicators). For this year, the Centre has allocated 32.8 million tonnes of rice for PDS, MDMS and the ICDS Scheme, under the National Food Security Act, 2013. But providing all of it as fortified rice by 2024 appears to be a tall task.

Rice fortification is enrichment of the cereal with micronutrients—commonly iron, Vitamin B12 and folic acid—to provide a nutritional boost to undernourished and vulnerable populations on a mega scale across geographies. According to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) norms, a kilo of fortified rice will contain 28-42.5 mg of iron, 75-125 mcg of folic acid and 0.75-1.25 mcg of Vitamin B12 (see Super Rice).

India bears the largest burden of iron deficiency and anaemia globally, with nearly 59 per cent of children and 50 per cent of pregnant women anaemic, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4). Child and maternal malnutrition is responsible for 15 per cent of the country’s total disease burden. The NFHS-4, conducted in 2015-2016, found the prevalence of underweight, stunted and wasted children under five years of age to be 35.7, 38.4 and 21 per cent, respectively.

The Union government believes rice fortification is the panacea for malnutrition and has been working on ironing out supply chain and other logistical issues in consultation with the NITI Aayog, FSSAI and non-governmental stakeholders such as Tata Trusts, World Food Programme, PATH and Nutrition International. India produces over a fifth of the world’s rice. At a per capita consumption of 6.8 kilos a month, the country is the largest consumer of rice.

Rice fortification has been underway as a pilot scheme (one district per state) since 2019-20 in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh, with plans to extend this to Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Kerala and Jharkhand. Preliminary data suggests that fortified rice is well accepted by the beneficiaries.

Fortification is meant to improve the nutritional quality of food to bring health benefits to people with minimal risks. For this, food additives need to be used in permitted quantities. For example, iodised salt, introduced in 1962 to tackle goitre, has had wide acceptance in the country. However, expert opinion is divided on the health benefits of fortified rice.

© Provided by India Today


Public health experts say food fortification is one of the most sustainable strategies to address micronutrient deficiencies in people. Not only is it cost-effective, scientifically proven and globally recognised, supplies to the targeted populations can be easily ensured through the ongoing food delivery schemes. Rice has the highest uptake in government food security programmes, such as PDS, ICDS Scheme and MDMS, potentially making it an ideal choice for fortification. It can help tackle the micronutrient deficiencies (‘hidden hunger’) that endanger the health of vulnerable sections of the population.

Women of reproductive age, children and adolescents are the most vulnerable. “Fortified rice can provide 30-50 per cent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of iron that adults need daily, based on average Indian consumption,” says Mini Varghese, country director, India, Nutrition International, one of the organisations partnering with the government on the pilot project. “Trials in a controlled setting, where 100 per cent RDA of iron was ensured, showed results within 10 months. But with fortified rice, you need a minimum of 24 months to see the impact.”

Nutrition International, in collaboration with the government’s Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC), conducted an acceptability study this February for fortified rice in three districts of Madhya Pradesh. Over 400 beneficiaries of the ICDS Scheme and MDMS were served khichdi and kheer prepared with fortified rice. More than 80 per cent of them liked it and over 60 per cent expressed interest in fortified rice if available through the PDS, MDMS and ICDS Scheme. Self-help groups (SHGs) in the three districts concluded that there was no visible difference between fortified rice and regular PDS rice nor any changes while washing and cooking it. “Multiple studies have shown the efficacy of fortified rice. More than 17 scientific publications in over 25 countries, including India, have demonstrated that consumption of extruded fortified rice is safe and effective in women and children. It can significantly address iron deficiency,” says Varghese.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in September 2011 by the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition in the adjacent Ranga Reddy district showed that regular intake of Micronised Ferric Pyrophosphate (MFPP) supplied through extruded fortified rice kernels reduces iron deficiency among schoolchildren. A double-blind study is a randomised trial in which neither the participants nor the experimenters know who all are part of the study.

A similar study in March 2012, conducted together by the St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, and The Micronutrient Initiative (former name of Nutrition International), indicated that anaemia caused by iron deficiency had reduced from 30 per cent to 15 per cent among children who consumed fortified rice for seven months through a school mid-day meal programme in Bengaluru. The study showed that fortified rice (at 3-5 mg Fe per 100 g) was indistinguishable from natural rice, both in cooked and uncooked forms.

“Food fortification is a good move, but there is a long way to go before the results are visible,” emphasises Dr V. Prakash, president, International Union of Food Science and Technology, and former director, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysuru. “Rice is a staple food in many parts of India and can provide the required micronutrients on a daily basis along with other foods it is eaten with.This, hopefully, will be supplemented with enough proteins and other macro and micronutrients.”


Other experts say fortifying rice with one or two nutrients is not the answer to nutritional deficiencies since the other issue of ensuring sufficient amounts of quality protein in the diets of children and the convalescent remains. Experts also caution about the adverse impact of excess intake of micronutrients through food fortification.

Some point out that though the mandatory rice fortification programme is already being piloted in some districts, it focuses solely on the logistics without examining the intended benefits, such as alleviating anaemia. A perspective paper, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2021, makes a strong case for improving dietary diversity instead. The study, which was led by Dr Anura V. Kurpad of the Department of Physiology, St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, argues for extreme caution because nutrients (like medicines) are beneficial in the right dose but potentially harmful when taken in excess.

The paper argues that there is over-estimating of anaemia and dietary iron deficiency in the country, primarily due to three factors—inappropriate haemoglobin cut-offs to diagnose anaemia in children or pregnant women; adoption of capillary (finger prick) blood sampling instead of venous sampling; and inflated daily iron requirement benchmarks, which have recently been corrected and revised down. “You don’t need to fortify to meet the daily requirement of 15-18 mg in the Indian diet. We need to consider whether we really have an iron-deficient diet, or, if we are not adequately absorbing iron, and if many other factors cause anaemia. Putting more and more iron into the diet places a part of the population at risk of breaching the tolerable upper limit of intake,” says Kurpad.

Kurpad terms mandatory rice fortification as a “knee-jerk reaction”. “It is well known since the past 20 years that higher intake of iron increases the risk of diabetes. We are already the diabetes capital of the world. The RDA is a wrong metric for population requirement. We should follow the revised NIN (National Institute of Nutrition) 2020 dietary recommendations, which is half of the RDA,” he says. “When we use it, many diets become magically adequate. People are not looking at the adequacy of dietary intake with the 2020 NIN recommendations. The corrected and apt population requirements can be met with a standard diverse diet.”


The government’s plan is to mandatorily fortify rice and even edible oils with vitamins and minerals. Fortifying all rice through the country’s estimated 28,000 rice millers is a humungous exercise. India’s current capacity of producing 15,000 tonnes a year of fortified kernels is far from adequate to meet the ambitious target by 2024. The annual capacity needs to be in the range of 130,000 tonnes in order to cover the PDS, anganwadi and MDMS supplies in the 112 aspirational districts alone. To cover PDS across the country in 2024, at least 350,000 tonnes of fortified kernels will be needed.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been asked to equip rice mills with blending machines needed to mix the kernels into regular rice. Rice millers will have to make the immediate investment and the government may consider offering loans and other incentives to create an enabling environment. Since the fortified kernels look and taste the same as regular rice grains, there is also a need for quality checks and monitoring to ensure that consumers are not taken for a ride. NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) and FSSAI laboratories are exploring how to build capacity for quality testing. Some of the other challenges are streamlining the supply chain of fortified rice in food programmes, installing adequate blenders at rice mills and training the millers and state and district officials.

Experts say mandatory fortification of rice will force even population groups that do not need it to take in the food additives. “Mandatory fortification of rice poses a food safety risk. The implementation of food safety laws is mainly left to states and Union territories; it is weak in several states,” says the international food safety specialist Dr Ramesh V. Bhat.

Those against food fortification argue that the total dietary intake of people from a variety of food sources, and not just rice, needs to be taken into account. Natural foods, such as locally available green vegetables and fruits, including a variety of berries found in the tribal and rural areas, could provide the deficient nutrients to the vulnerable groups. “Only a third of RDA can come from fortification; the rest has to be sourced from natural foods,” says Bhat.

Fortification is a preventive intervention and not a therapeutic one. It can help avert mild anaemia as a mid-term strategy and severe anaemia in the long run. There is overwhelming evidence in favour of complementing fortification with dietary diversification. “People take time to accept changes. A strong behavioural change communication strategy is required to create awareness about the health benefits of fortification and address the myths around it,” says Varghese. But, as Kurpad cautions, “The cure might become the malady.”



The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which sets standards for food items in the country, defines fortification as “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in food to improve nutritional quality and provide public health benefits with minimal risk to health”.

© Provided by India Today Graphic by Tanmoy Chakraborty


Broken rice grains are powdered and nutrients iron, Vitamin B12 and folate added to the flour. Ferric pyrophosphate and enhancing compounds, such as citric acid and trisodium citrate, are also added to improve iron absorption. The fortified mix is shaped into rice kernels using an extrusion process, and then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio.

© Provided by India Today Graphic by Tanmoy Chakraborty


The Union government estimates the cost of producing fortified rice kernels (with iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12) at about Rs 0.60 a kilo. The cost will be shared by the Centre and the states, with the government compensating the rice millers.


Fortified rice will be packaged in jute bags with the logo ‘+F’ and will carry the mandatory line ‘Fortified with iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12’.

© Provided by India Today


© Provided by India Today
Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Braves beat Dodgers 4-2 to advance to World Series, with Eddie Rosario HR and strong relief pitching key

© Provided by The Comeback Eddie Rosario’s HR in Game 6 of the NLCS. The Atlanta Braves are heading to their first World Series since 1999. They got there with ... Read more »

Listen: Braves radio call that sent Atlanta back to the World Series will give you chills

© Provided by Fansided The Atlanta Braves are heading to the World Series but the radio call of the final out to win the NLCS is sure to hit you ... Read more »

NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario leads Braves to first World Series since 1999

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports Atlanta Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in ... Read more »

GAMMA World Championships Invites Indian Team to MMA Championships in Germany

© Provided by News18 The team members from the KOI Combat Academy have been invited to the GAMMA World Championships in Germany, equivalent to the Olympics. This is a major ... Read more »

T20 World Cup: India 5, Pakistan 0

© Provided by The Times of India Old foes India and Pakistan resume their rivalry with a potentially high-voltage clash on Sunday. A quick jog down memory lane as TOI ... Read more »

T20 World Cup: It is all about absorbing the pressure, says Sohail Tanvir on India-Pakistan matches

© Provided by The Times of India What is it about the India-Pakistan match that makes it different from other fixtures? Given the history and storied rivalry between the two ... Read more »

BMW 5 Series M Sport Carbon Edition Launched in India, Prices Start at Rs 66.30 Lakh

© Provided by News18 BMW 5 Series M Sport Carbon Edition Launched in India, Prices Start at Rs 66.30 Lakh The new BMW 5 Series M Sport ‘Carbon Edition’ has ... Read more »

T20 World Cup 2021: West Indies must dump one-size-fits-all approach after abject surrender

© Provided by Firstpost T20 World Cup 2021: West Indies must dump one-size-fits-all approach after abject surrender Cricket fans had every reason to believe that, having played enough T20 cricket, ... Read more »

India vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup: Wasim Jaffer leaves fans puzzled; uses IPL references for his India Playing XI

Former Indian cricketer Wasim Jaffer is known for his humour and wit on his official Twitter profile, and he stayed true to his reputation as he named his Indian playing ... Read more »

UPPSC PCS prelims today, close to 7 lakh candidates to appear

The preliminary phase of the Uttar Pradesh Combined State /Upper Subordinate Services (Preliminary)-2021, commonly known as PCS (Preliminary)-2021 exam is being held today. The Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) ... Read more »

Voting for Congress same as pressing NOTA button, says TMC's Abhishek Banerjee

© Provided by Zee News Gosaba: TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Saturday claimed that voting for the Congress and Left Front would be in no way different from ... Read more »

DRDO Recruitment 2021: Apply for Apprentice posts on, details here

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: The Defence Scientific Information and Documentation Centre (DESIDOC), DRDO has invited applications for Apprentice posts. DESIDOC has issued notification to fill over 21 ... Read more »

Bangladesh violence: ISKCON devotees hold protest in Bengaluru

© Provided by The Statesman Bangladesh violence: ISKCON devotees hold protest in Bengaluru Followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) held a peaceful march on Saturday in the ... Read more »

Samantha in cryptic post says be thankful for what you are after split with Naga Chaitanya

Samantha shares a cryptic post on Instagram after split with Naga Chaitanya. Samantha is trying to recover and move on in life after ending her four-year marriage with Naga Chaitanya. ... Read more »

Emily Ratajkowski drops NEW photos of son Sylvester Apollo Bear after revealing his face on social media

© Provided by Pinkvilla Emily Ratajkowski announced the birth of her first child with husband Sebastian Bear-McClard in March this year. On October 1, the model revealed the face of ... Read more »

Ed Sheeran hopes to help kids overcome stutters with TV bedtime story

© IANS Ed Sheeran.(photo:Instagram) Los Angeles, Oct 24 (IANS) Grammy winning-singer Ed Sheeran is hoping his new storytelling appearance will help children, like him, who are growing up with stutters. ... Read more »

'No matter how well Pakistan play, they won't win if India don't make mistakes': Rashid Latif ahead of T20 World Cup tie

© Provided by Hindustan Times Can Pakistan break India’s undefeated streak against them in World Cups?  (Getty Images) Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif believes the chances of Babar Azam’s team ... Read more »

Happy Birthday, Wriddhiman Saha: Top Performances of the Wicketkeeper-batter

© Provided by News18 Happy Birthday, Wriddhiman Saha: Top Performances of the Wicketkeeper-batter India’s veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Wridhimman Saha has earned more fame as a wicketkeeper than a batter in the ... Read more »

Big Ten football power rankings after week 8: What's for real, and what's not?

© Provided by Buckeyes Wire Big Ten football power rankings after Week 8 | Buckeyes Wire Another week of Big Ten football play is in the books, and while only ... Read more »

Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson amongst Panthers returning to MetLife Stadium

© Provided by Panthers Wire MORE: Panthers CB Stephon Gilmore reportedly will not play in Week 7 Behind Enemy Lines: Previewing Week 7 with Giants Wire Panthers predictions: How Week ... Read more »

T20 WC: India vs Pakistan - Who Will Win? Wasim Akram Reckons it is 60-40 in Favour of Virat Kohli And Co

© Ankit Banerjee | Sports Desk Ind vs Pak, T20 WC Wasim Akram (Image: Twitter) Dubai: The excitement is palpable among fans as India gets ready to take on ... Read more »

Light rains likely to occur in parts of UP, Haryana

© Provided by The Statesman Light rains likely to occur in parts of UP, Haryana Thunderstorm with light to moderate intensity rain is likely to occur in parts of Haryana ... Read more »

Shaheen Bhatt: Put your well-being over others' displeasure

Prioritise yourself I’ve recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I feel the need for medication and my psychiatrist agrees. But my parents are vehemently against it despite my explaining ... Read more »

Experiencing abdominal cramps, but without periods? This is when you need to see a doctor

Cramps during periods is a common menace that millions of women face across the world. It signifies the onset of the menstruation cycle, and is associated with pain, discomfort, and ... Read more »

Tyler Matzek puts together heroic effort in Game 6 clincher

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports Just how dominant was Tyler Matzek Saturday night? He needed just 17 pitches to retire six batters, and he threw 15 strikes. Eddie Rosario was ... Read more »

3 Dodgers players who won't be back in 2022

© Provided by Fansided These three members of the Los Angeles Dodgers are more than likely not returning to the team in the 2022 season. The Los Angeles Dodgers entered ... Read more »

ISL: Vinit Rai Among Three Captains Announced by Odisha FC Ahead of 2021-22 Season

© Provided by News18 Vinit Rai, Victor Mongil and Hector Rodas have been voted as Odisha FC’s three captains by the players for the upcoming season of the Indian Super ... Read more »

'It's a World Cup for India to lose': Brian Lara 'certain' about Virat Kohli and Co. reaching semi-finals

Terming India as an out and out favourite, Legendary West Indies cricketer Brian Lara said the T20 World Cup 2021 is there for India to lose. India start off their ... Read more »

Schedule set for Astros-Braves World Series

© Jon Shapley, Staff Photographer The Astros will have home-field advantage in the World Series after the Braves eliminated the Dodgers on Saturday night. That means the Astros, who finished ... Read more »

Halyna inspired us all: Matt Hutchins on his late cinematographer wife

© IANS Halyna Hutchins.( Los Angeles, Oct 24 (IANS) Matt Hutchins, the husband of the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, has given a statement regarding the fatal tragedy that occurred on ... Read more »

Adele's a difficult person to buy gifts for, jokes James Corden

© IANS Adele.(photo:Instagram) Los Angeles, Oct 24 (IANS) Singer Adele recently revealed that TV presenter-actor James Corden gave her a used piece of singer Celine Dion’s used chewing gum as ... Read more »

Daniel Craig reveals final Bond scene he filmed for 'No Time To Die'

© IANS Daniel Craig.( Los Angeles, Oct 24 (IANS) Hollywood star Daniel Craig, who played 007 for the fifth and final time in ‘No Time To Die’, has recalled his ... Read more »

Confederation Cup: CS Sfaxien knock out Bayelsa United

Bayelsa United have crashed out of the Caf Confederation Cup after losing 4-0 to CS Sfaxien in Saturday’s second round, second leg fixture. The Nigerian National League side had won ... Read more »

Candlelight vigils to be held in memory of 'Rust' cinematographer

© IANS Candlelight Vigils to Be Held in Memory of ‘Rust’ Cinematographer.( Los Angeles, Oct 24 (IANS) Two candlelight vigils will be held in memory of the late cinematographer Halyna ... Read more »

Army jawan, 2 policemen injured in fresh gunfight with terrorists in J-K's Poonch

Army jawan, 2 policemen injured in fresh gunfight with terrorists in J-K’s Poonch One Army jawan and two policemen were injured in a fresh gunfight with terrorists in Jammu and ... Read more »

India vs Pakistan: Flashpoints and Flare-ups in the Intense Cricket Rivalry

© Provided by News18 India vs Pakistan: Flashpoints and Flare-ups in the Intense Cricket Rivalry Team India is all set to lock horns against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday in the ... Read more »

ESIC HP, Odisha, Assam, Tamil Nadu: 47 specialist grade 2 vacancies to be filled

Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has invited applications to fill 47 specialist grade 2 (junior scale and senior scale) positions in Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Tamil Nadu. The application ... Read more »

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to visit Ayodhya on October 26, offer prayers at Ram Lalla temple

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will visit Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya on October 26. The AAP supremo will offer prayers at the birthplace of ... Read more »

India logs 15,906 new Covid cases, Kerala worst-hit state

India logs 15,906 new Covid cases, 50% cases from Kerala India has registered 15,906 new Covid cases with Kerala contributing to 50.01 per cent of the fresh infections with 8,909 ... Read more »

IMD predicts thunderstorm, light rain in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana today

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday (October 24, 2021) said that thunderstorm with light to moderate intensity rain is likely to occur ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic