FORTIFIED RICE (FR) & RICE KERNELS (FRK's)

Fortified rice and kernels

Fortifying rice involves coating normal rice with a premix of essential micronutrients. The most commonly used nutrients in rice fortification include iron, folic acid, and other B-complex vitamins. Fortified rice is as usual as rice but has more nutrients as compared to the normal rice that is provided with each scoop.

The primary aim of rice fortification is to counteract malnutrition which is a prevalent issue in many regions of the globe, including developing nations that incorporate rice in their diet. Those societies that rely on rice as their staple food source are usually lacking in certain vitamins and minerals because they do not variety their diets. These nutrient deficiencies are adequately met through the consumption of fortified rice.

Some key benefits of fortified rice

  • Uptake of folic acid to avoid the enhancement of birth defects in newborns
  • Iron-rich with B vitamins such as thiamin and niacin
  • The process does not affect the flavor profile or textural attributes of rice
  • An inexpensive approach to achieving targeted nutrient delivery of micronutrients.
  • Supplies extra iron, which would help avoid anemia.

Since over 3 billion people globally consume rice and malnutrition is still prevalent, releasing fortified rice enhances nutrition delivery through food and provides a feasible strategy to address large groups of people at once Numerous countries have developed large-scale rice fortification campaigns, with assistance from the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI).

Understanding the Rice Kernel

The rice kernel is in fact, a seed, and its main function is to provide a source of nutrients to support the growth of a rice plant. At a basic anatomical level, the kernel has several distinct parts:

  • Hull – It is the tough external covering or outer skin that protects the inner sensitive vital parts inside any object.
  • Bran – The compact and rich layers that lie beneath the hull
  • Endosperm – It will form the greater part of the kernel and is made up of starchy carbohydrates.
  • Germ – The nutritive embryo or the growing point within a seed from which emerges a new plant.
  • Esker – A protein coat that surrounds the bran and strictly separates it from the endosperm.
 Milling rice starts by removing the outer hull. Further milling removes the bran and germ, leaving mainly the starchy endosperm – this makes rice last longer but removes most nutrients. This process significantly reduces essential vitamins and minerals like:
  • B vitamins (important for energy and brain function)
  • Iron (crucial for oxygen transport)
  • Vitamin E (protects cells)
  • Fiber (aids digestion)
  • Other minerals (magnesium, zinc, potassium)

Understanding the Rice Kernel

This is where fortified rice comes to the rescue!

Fortified rice bridges this gap by adding tiny, nutrient-packed kernels called fortified rice kernels (FRKs) [either coated rice kernels or extruded rice-shaped kernels prepared with a mix of vitamins and minerals] during processing. These FRKs are like little warriors against malnutrition, effectively enriching regular rice and ensuring you get the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. 

Manufacturing Methods

There are two main methods for fortifying rice:

EXTRUSION: Broken rice kernels left from milling are ground into flour, then blended with a premix of desired vitamins and minerals. This mixture is cooked, shaped into rice-like kernels using an extruder, dried, and finally blended with regular rice at a specific ratio (often 1:100) to create the final fortified product.

COATING: A premix of vitamins and minerals is directly applied to the surface of regular rice kernels through spraying or dipping to create a thin, fortified coating but this is only useful in countries where consumers do not wash rice before cooking it.

However, it is necessary to understand that the added nutrients, along with the type of fortification, may significantly depend on the producer and the legislation. Fortification mostly seeks to add vitamins such as iron, Vitamin A, folic acid, B vitamins and zinc to rice. According to the label information, you can determine which of the nutrients are added to your specific brand of fortified rice.

why testing fortified rice is essential

Ensuring Consistent Nutrient Content

Fortification helps micronutrient deficiencies by incorporating nutrients such as iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12. It also ensures that the rice that is produced contains the required proportion of these nutrients from time to time.

Monitoring Stability of Micronutrients

Some vitamins and minerals tend to lose their efficacy after some time particularly when they are stored in a warehouse. Monitoring of these levels is eased through testing and it guarantees that the fortified rice brand retains its healthier value right from the processing to consumer level.

Verifying Compliance with Regulations

There is also trend in legislation in which many countries have put into place regulations for fortified foods and rice among them. From this, testing confirms whether or not the rice contains recommended amounts of fortificants as emphasized by these regulations. This safeguards consumers as well as the program’s efficiencies.

Detecting Harmful Contaminants

These problems remain rare; however, they can emerge during the fortification stage. Analyzing helps to determine if there are any side products that might be hazardous to the consumer’s health.

Maintaining Quality Assurance and Control

Rice samples should be tested in the middle of the rice fortification to determine any abnormalities or issues that may be present in the process. This is important for quality assurance and for passing on safe and efficient fortified food products to consumers.

Overall Benefits

Thus, fortified rice testing enhances public welfare since the program’s goal is to provide the desired outcomes. It helps to deliver vital energy and micronutrients consistently, fight against deficiencies effectively, and lead to a healthier society.

FSSAI GUIDELINES FOR FORTIFIED RICE

In India, FSSAI governs fortified rice consumption through the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018 (FSS).  The above standards concern rice that is enhanced with micronutrients and can help improve human nutrition.

Key FSSAI standards for fortified rice

MICRONUTRIENTS: If a rice product is fortified it has to contain the following amounts of added nutrients per kilogram of rice: Iron, folic acid and vitamin B12.

  • IRON: 28 mg-42.5 mg (as ferric pyrophosphate) or sodium iron, ethylene diamine tetra acetate, trihydrate: 14 mg-21.25 mg
  • FOLIC ACID: 75 mcg – 125 mcg
  • VITAMIN B12 (Cyanocobalamine or hydroxycobalamin): 0.75 mcg – 1.25 mcg

Fortification Process

The process of fortification has to make sure that the micronutrients are uniformly distributed all around the rice kernels.

Packaging

Fortified rice needs special packaging to protect its added nutrients from degrading during storage and transport. The packaging material depends on both the type of nutrient and how well the rice stays fresh.

Labeling

The label of fortified rice needs to have the following statements or a similar statement that is equally informative:

  • The fact that the rice is fortified
  • The specific micronutrient(s) used and its/their concentration
  • FSSAI food fortification program logo

CVR Labs Fortified Rice Testing Services.

To assure quality and the provision of the intended nutrients, fortified rice goes through several tests at the CVR Labs. Here’s a breakdown of the common tests performed on fortified rice:

Micronutrient Analysis:

This core set of tests measures the amounts of added vitamins and minerals in fortified rice. The specific tests depend on the fortificants used but typically include:

Iron Analysis

Using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) the exact amount of iron of either ferric pyrophosphate, that can be added to the rice is quantified.

Folic Acid Analysis

High-performance liquid Chromatography (HPLC) identifies the initial concentration of the folic acid used and how much folic acid is found in the rice.

Vitamin B12 Analysis

In much the same manner as with folic acid analysis, the HPLC method, or any other, determines the amount of vitamin B12 present.

Microbiological Testing

The lack of unwanted bacterial contamination, which can be problematic to human health for the consumers.

Physical and Chemical Testing

Determines factors such as the level of moisture in the rice and grain size and the lack of any contaminant in the rice for general rice quality and food safety.

Sensory Evaluation

Determines the acceptability of fortified rice to consumers by assessing the taste, texture, and smell of the rice.

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