Dr Saurabh Arora*

An average Indian can consume nearly 6 kg of rice a month. India ranks second in terms of rice production all over the world. Apparently we all like rice and eat everyday with veggies and pulses.To curb the micronutrients deficiencies fortified rice is an acceptable, easy and efficient process to provide vital micronutrients to the masses.Fortification of staple food is a common practice all over the world. It is a way to carry the leading nutrients where the diet mainly consists of rice, or other foods are not available or affordable.  

Apparently, fortifying rice is clinically approved by the National Institute of Nutrition. So, if you are a Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) manufacturer it is pivotal that your rice kernels fortification business should fulfill all the regulatory requirements. It is indispensable that fortified rice kernels are tested  from an authorized laboratory notified by FSSAI.  Before it goes out for consumption and distribution, it is mandatory to ensure and assure that the quality of the fortified rice is not compromised and must be developed on the basis of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

FRK as a targeted food vehicle

  • Fortified rice kernels  are blended with normal rice at fixed proportions to achieve mandatory fortification levels set by the regulatory agencies
  • Rice Fortification is a targeted food vehicle to reduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies as rice is considered to be the major staple food for more than 70 percent of the Indian population.
  • Rice also constitutes a significant percentage of the grains distributed and cooked under the government social security nets through delivery channels like  PDS, MDM, or ICDS.

What is Rice Fortification?

  • Rice Fortification is the practice of purposely increasing the essential micronutrients like vitamins and minerals in rice to ameliorate and enhance the nutritional quality.
  • The process of milling and polishing removes natural vitamins and minerals in rice which makes it an incomplete food. This is why the method of rice kernels fortification is used to add minerals and vitamins which could fulfill the nutritional gaps.
  • Notably, rice is fortified using dusting, coating or extrusion technology.
  • Rice can be fortified by adding vitamin premix to the rice that sticks to the grains.
  •     It can also be extruded and shaped into partially pre cooked grain-like structures which appear like rice grains.
  •   Rice kernels can be fortified with several micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid, Vitamin B12 and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc.

A glimpse at the recommendations of World Health Organisation (WHO)

 According to WHO , rice fortification with Vitamin A , folic acid,  is a way to reduce nutritional  deficiency where rice is eaten as a main staple food. 

FSSAI’s Recommendations

 Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) produced using extrusion technology are made with rice flour and micronutrients such as iron, folic acid, Vitamin B12 as mandatory and zinc, vitamin A, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) as optional micronutrients.

FSSAI’s guidelines on licenses for variety of fortified rice kernels manufactured by FBO’s

  • If FBO is only producing FRK, then such FBO shall obtain FSSAI License/Registration under category 99, sub-category 99.5.
  •   If FBO is blending sourced FRKs with normal rice, then the final product produced will be fortified rice and so the product category for fortified rice is 06 and licensing will be accordingly required.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)

 GMPs procedures should be followed during fortification of rice kernels to assure food wholesomeness. It is important for your business to follow the minimum sanitary and processing conditions required in a processing plant.

Ways To Enhance Quality Assurance and Quality Control 

  1. Fortified rice should be regularly checked and inspected at all levels to ensure its quality and mitigate any risk of toxicity.
  2. It is essential to keep up to date record of  inventory of fortificants used in the manufacturing or packing process, including the source of its procurement;
  3. Appropriate monitoring procedures at different stages of manufacturing or packing process.
  4. Random testing of fortificants and fortified food.
  5. Regular audit of technical equipment and processes.

Impact and Significance of FRK

  • The facts show that one third of the world’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiency mostly in developing countries. Rice is replaced with fortified rice to boost its nutritional profile as it is a great solution for health conscious consumers.
  • It has been observed that countries where fortified rice is used leads to reduction in micronutrient deficiency health issues like anaemia and neural tube.
  • Fortified rice, micronutrients like iron, folic acid, and Vitamin B12 are mixed with rice flour. Under the ministry guidelines 10 gm of FRK (fortified rice kernels)must be blended with 1 kg of regular rice. According to FSSAI norms , 1 kg of fortified rice will contain the following; iron 28 mg-42.5mg), folic acid (75- 125 microgram) and vitamin B-12(0.75-1.25 microgram)
  • FSSAI had issued draft regulations on mandatory fortification of rice kernels with vitamin B12, iron and folic acid by 2024.
  • Fortified rice appears like milled rice in size , shape and colour however it contains additional vitamins and minerals that retain their micronutrient content when washed and boiled in water.
  • It is crucial to ensure that the fortified rice kernel matches the colour and shape of the rice kernel and it should not float differently while washing in water.
  • The nutrient rich layer of rice like iron, zinc, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin are usually removed in the milling process, polishing removes a major percentage of the nutrients in the rice.

Inspection is mandatory to get license for FRK

  • Good manufacturing practices and food safety guidelines as per FSSAI standard guideline must be followed. The manufacturing and food safety practices must comply with all statutory and regulatory guidelines of the country/ state /region where it is manufactured.
  • Every fortified rice kernels manufacturing unit will be inspected before grant of license.
  • FSSAI has set standards for fortified rice and the level of fortification of iron, folic and Vitamin B12 on a per kg basis has already been defined.

Market Considerations:

  • Fortified kernels offer commercial opportunities.
  •     Advancement in technology that offers cost effective rice fortification.
  • Growing awareness related to the benefits of fortifying rice.
  • Support of government and non-governmental organisations and the UN.
  •   Rice brand owners are also using fortification methods to offer healthier options for consumers from all sections of society.
  • The brands can strengthen their market position with growing demand for fortified rice.

Fortified Rice Kernel Testing in Our Lab

We provide fortified rice kernels testing services in our labs located in pan India locations. We have the state of the art equipment and bespoke testing facilities. Our labs are approved by BIS, NABL and FSSAI. We ensure reliable testing service for FRK customers (Fortified Rice Kernel manufacturers) for testing Iron, Folic acid, and Vitamin B12 in the FRK. 

**A prolific inventor, pharmacist, scientist, technophile, and visionary entrepreneur. He has been leading the contract, testing, certification, and research business at Arbro and Auriga since 2005 with labs in seven locations. Invented, patented, and commercialized SNEC 30, a scientifically advanced curcumin supplement; Founder of Food Safety Helpline; Founder and Mentor of Lab-Training.com