1 June is celebrated as World Milk Day every year. In India, GAIN in partnership with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India FSSAI, organised a National Webinar themed Improving the Nutrition Quality of Milk through Fortification to discuss the potential role of fortified milk in improving health and immunity. The webinar was attended by more than 2,800 participants that included representatives from the government, development partners, academia and industry.
Liquid milk is the most widely consumed dairy product in India and is considered a vital source of essential nutrients required for proper functioning of the body.
Speaking at the event, CEO of FSSAI Shri Arun Singhal gave his remarks noting, "FSSAI in December 2020, issued a draft notification for mandatory fortification of the packaged toned, double toned, skimmed milk or standardised milk with Vitamin A and Vitamin D. This will ensure nationwide availability of fortified milk and will impact the health of people in a positive manner."
Currently, India produces over 193 lakh litres per day (LLPD) of fortified liquid milk reaching over 121 million people. Fortification of milk with Vitamin A and Vitamin D is required in India because of the widespread deficiencies present in the population. A Recent National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau survey and a Report of the expert group of ICMR in 2012 has stated that India has a very high burden of Vitamin A and D deficiencies, amongst both young children and adults particularly in urban areas are physically less active and have a very limited exposure to sunlight.
"It is crucial to make concerted efforts in scaling up and sustaining efforts for quality fortification while making fortification mandatory in the country," added Mr. Singhal.
Other panellists, Dr. Ambrish Mithal, Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Max Healthcare shared interesting insight on the potential role of vitamin A and D in boosting immunity and improving overall health. Dr. Sumit Arora, Principal Scientist, Dairy Chemistry Division, NDRI elaborated that fortification of milk with vitamin A and D does not have any impact on the final product in terms of colour, taste, storage quality of milk.
It is crucial to make concerted efforts in scaling up and sustaining efforts for quality fortification while making fortification mandatory in the country.
Tarun Vij, GAIN India Country Director emphasized the importance of fortifying milk in India’s nutrition agenda saying, "We need to adopt a strategic approach for scale up of milk fortification in the country and it should be complemented with building capacities of the milk industry for producing quality assured milk fortified with vitamin A and vitamin D."