• Nine of the most prominent Indian food and drink companies did not pass the test
  • Many brands did not manufacture or produce very few fortified foods.
  • Fortification refers to the introduction of micronutrients to food products.

The trend towards healthier eating is growing in popularity. People are becoming aware of what they eat and the kind of food ingredients they select from the supermarket shelves. This trend has resulted in severalseveral brands of food and beverages introducing new varieties that are “healthy” or more nutritious food products to meet the increasing consumer demand. You can choose from various options, including multi-grain flour brown rice, brown rice, canola oil, healthy seeds, cereals with fortification, etc. With a myriad of food items hitting the supermarket shelves each day, regulatory agencies of the government enforce stricter standards to ensure that high-quality foods are available to consumers. But this is a shocking report. According to a survey published by Access to Nutrition Index India Spotlight in 2016, more than 12 percent of drinks and 16 percent of the food items offered by the top nine Indian drinks and foods firms were of “high nutritional quality.”The Dutch Foundation for Non-profits, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, assessed the companies of their policies, practices, and nutrition disclosures in India and worldwide. The nine companies that were evaluated stated they committed to fighting the issue of undernutrition. However, they did not make or produce the few fortified food packaged products.

Fortification refers to adding micronutrients -minerals and vitamins in food items to combat deficiencies in nutrition. Fortification is widely recognized as an affordable and effective way to increase the quality of micronutrients in the population.

India faces two distinct nutritional issues: malnutrition and growing obesity, particularly in children. Consumption of packaged food is steadily increasing across the country, especially in urban areas. Furthermore, the new index of nutrition found that most packaged foods do need to address the two nutritional challenges facing India.

The Delhi-based products of Mother Dairy were ranked the most healthy of the nine businesses examined because 77 percent of their sales were drinks made from milk. Hindustan Unilever and Britannia were placed in the second and third positions. Nestle India was ranked seventh.

The index-based its decision on what was referred to as”product-profile rating” or “product-profile rating” on the nutritional quality of the product and the relative sales of more or less healthy items. It also assessed the conformity to the requirements of nine firms with Indian nutrition labeling regulations.

“Nestle India is looking closely at the areas where the Index has recommended improvements,” a Nestle India spokesperson told IndiaSpend in an email. “We are trying to explore possibilities of fortifying products across portfolios. Some of our existing fortified products include Masala-e-Magic and CEREGROW.”

The index recommended that companies enhance their product image by making healthier products accessible to lower-income consumers. Between 2 and 5 percent of the products were enriched with micronutrients that are not present within Indian eating habits, the study discovered. Products made from milk and wheat were supplemented with vitamins A, D, C, and iron. However, the majority of producers didn’t fortify their healthy products.

“Moreover, other than one or two examples of companies using salt fortified with iodine to make their products, most do not commit to exclusively using fortified ingredients such as wheat or milk,” the index noted. Inputs come from IANS.