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Food Ministry Refutes Congress’ Claims, Assures Safety of Fortified Rice

Claims stating that Niti Aayog opposed fortified rice are unfounded and lack any factual basis in the reports.

Shivangi Rai
The Ministry said consumption of fortified rice improved haemoglobin levels. (Photo Courtesy- Pexels)
The Ministry said consumption of fortified rice improved haemoglobin levels. (Photo Courtesy- Pexels)

The Union Food Ministry has responded to allegations made by Congress regarding the distribution of fortified rice through fair price shops.

The Ministry's spokesperson stated that the NITI Aayog, as well as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), have been actively involved in the implementation of the scheme.

The Ministry cited various studies indicating that the consumption of fortified rice has led to significant improvements in haemoglobin levels and a reduction in the prevalence of anaemia.

According to the Ministry, rice fortification has been adopted by seven countries, including the United States, since 1958.

NITI Aayog, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, is conducting a concurrent evaluation of the program. Additionally, evaluation studies of pilot districts are currently underway.

However, the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) criticized the Centre's decision to supply iron-fortified rice in public safety net programs such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), mid-day meals, and anganwadis.

Also, ASHA argued that this decision was made unilaterally by the government, reaching millions of poor citizens who rely on subsidized food. ASHA stated that the scaling up of the program occurred before the completion or independent and rigorous evaluation of the pilot scheme in 15 states.

According to an RTI response by the government, the evaluation of these pilots was due in late 2022.

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