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Feature: What’s that ‘thing’ in your NFA rice?

By Danny O. Sagun

PANGASINAN (20 September) -- If you notice something like an Amarillo in your NFA rice, don’t worry, it is just van iron fortification mix.

Colored yellow and usually mistaken for an Amarillo, the vitamin supplement was added to basic staples like rice to combat iron deficiency, which according to studies, is still a major health problem in the Philippines.

Manager Renato Sanedrin of the Binalonan-based National Food Authority eastern Pangasinan branch said that all NFA rice stocks sold in the public markets now are iron fortified.

The Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000 or Republic Act of 2000 or Republic Act 8976 took effect in November 2004. It seeks to address the alarming micronutrient deficiencies in the country. Food fortification is the addition of vitamins and minerals to commonly-eaten foods lacking in basic nutrients like milled rice.

The law calls for the mandatory of common staples like rice, flour, refined sugar and cooking oil. It also encourages manufacturers of other processed foods to fortify their products under the Sangkap Pinoy seal program.

In the Philippines, vitamin A deficiency disorder (VADD) increased from 35 percent to 38 percent among pre-school children in all regions in 1998, which is way above the 15 percent minimum set by the World Health Organization.

On the other hand, iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is no longer a major public health problem because of the significant increase in the median urinary iodine level among children. This may be attributed to the iodized salt program being promoted by the government.

Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) however remains a health problem as 66 percent or infants and 32 percent of pre-schoolers are still anemic.

Sanedrin, who along with Lita Catabay and Marissa Jacinto of the Lingayen-Based NFA branch guested at the Weekly Pantongtongan Tayo readio program of the Philippine Information Agency over Radyo ng Bayan-DZMQ last Tuesday, said that iron fortification has no effect on the taste and sensory characteristics both on the new and cooked rice.

Shell life of iron-fortified is the same as that of regular rice, he added. (PIA-Pangasinan) [top]

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