Food Fortification Addresses Micronutrient Deficiencies

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - The government is coming up with rice fortified with iron, zinc, and beta-carotene varieties to help reduce mortality and morbidity rates caused by micronutrient deficiencies. With bio-fortification, the country's staple crop will contain 50-80 percent more of iron and zinc.

Bio-fortification, the breeding crops to increase their nutritional value, is a sustainable way of addressing "hidden hunger," or deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. As rice is the main staple of Filipino diet, more people, especially in the rural areas, will get cheaper source of micronutrients. Around 1.7 million Filipino children mostly in remote areas, suffer from Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), while one in every 10 pregnant women lacks Vitamin A. Worldwide, VAD causes the deaths of 670,000 children annually, with another 350,000 suffering from blindness.

Congress enacted Republic Act (RA) 8976, the Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000, signed in November 7, 2004, seeking to address the micronutrient deficiencies in the country. The law recognizes the role of food fortification in laying the foundations for a healthy citizenry and ensuring economic growth. RA 8976 mandates the fortification of rice, flour, refined sugar, and cooking oil. It urges manufacturers of processed food to fortify their products under the "Sangkap Pinoy" Seal program. …