Rice fortification at scale to prevent micronutrient deficiency
by Becky Tsang, FFI Technical Officer for Asia Managing Rice Fortification Initiative
and Walter von Reding, Managing Director, Bühler Flour Service, Bühler, Switzerland
Micronutrient deficiency affects, globally, over 2.1 billion people and has an immense impact on human health, cognitive development, education, economic development and productivity.
Studies have shown properly implemented and monitored fortification programs for staple foods, like wheat flour or maize, is a cost-effective way to increase vitamin and mineral intake among the general population. Rice is the world"s second most commonly consumed cereal grain, with a consumption of about 480 million tons (estimate 2018) and is expected to reach 570 million tons by 2025, but, so far, rice has been rarely fortified in recent years.
Rice fortification technology has been further developed, over the last years, from different players. As a result, rice fortification, at scale, is gaining momentum as a feasible and cost-effective strategy to address micronutrient deficiencies. Hot and also cold extrusion, with drying technologies unlock the potential for rice fortification technically, by producing high quality fortified rice kernels with valuable micronutrients, nicely embedded in the starchy food matrix with minor losses during the cooking respectively the steaming process.
For example,Bühler"s hot extrusion process, for production of high quality reconstituted and fortified rice kernels, made from broken rice and rice flour, enables scaling-up rice fortification technically without compromising on the quality of the rice kernels. The concentrated, fortified rice kernels can be added to the polished white rice kernels at different points of the supply chain, depending on the business model and local requirements.
Bühler, as a member of the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), actively supports the implementation of rice fortification programs globally, with the different partners in countries where rice is mainly the stable food and micronutrients deficiency is a serious issue. Rice fortification fits to Bühler"s vision - for innovations for a better world and is key initiative to meet the group sustainability targets.
The FFI, with its members, sees potential for fortified rice to have a health impact in 12 countries in West Africa. Some of these countries fortify wheat flour, but rice is more commonly consumed. In these 12 countries, fortification of imported rice, plus the limited volume of domestically grown rice that is industrially milled, has the potential to reach over 146 million people. To get started, FFI is assessing rice fortification options in Nigeria and working with the World Food Program (WFP) on rice fortification in Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal.
Latin America is also a potential area for growth in rice fortification. Most countries in the region have mandatory wheat flour fortification, but rice is an equally important staple food. Also, Costa Rica has demonstrated the importance of fortifying multiple foods to reach different populations and meet nutrition goals. In 2018, with WFP support, Peru released standards for fortified rice to be used in social programs. This is seen as an early step towards making rice fortification mandatory throughout the country.
In November 2018, Solomon Islands leaders amended the national standard for rice to include mandatory fortification, making it the seventh country globally to have such legislation. Fortification of wheat flour is already mandatory in Solomon Islands, but rice is more commonly consumed, especially outside of the capital of Honiara.
Consequently, fortifying both flour and rice will increase the chances of improving nutrition for the country"s nearly 600,000 residents. The new rice standard will be effective by May 26th, 2019. It will apply to large-scale domestic production, as well as imported rice; nearly all rice in Solomon Islands is imported. The FFI provided technical support to Solomon Islands as the country pursued rice fortification.
In addition to Solomon Islands, countries with rice fortification mandates are Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and the United States. In addition, some rice is also fortified for social safety nets, market-based activities, and voluntary programs.
For additional information, please refer
- FFI Rice Fortification-www.ffinetwork.org/implement/Rice.html
- World Health Organization 2018 guideline for fortification of ricewith vitamins and minerals as a public health strategy - http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272535/9789241550291-eng.pdf?ua=1
- Technical manual for rice fortification in a toolkit from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and PATH- www.gainhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/here.pdf
- Rapid qualitative assay for fortified rice, developed by FFI for non-laboratory use, such as regulatory monitoring. See thestandard operating proceduresand the documentation for the assay - http://ffinetwork.org/implement/documents/Rice_Rapid_Assay_Documentation.pdf
- Worksheetfor stakeholders in countries considering mandating fortification of rice imports