- Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.
- Rice is cultivated in many parts of the world, as it grows in diverse climates. Industrial fortification of rice with vitamins and minerals has been practised for many years in several countries throughout the world, where rice is a staple consumed regularly in the preparation of many common local dishes.
- Micronutrient deficiencies of public health significance are widespread in most countries consuming high levels of rice; thus rice fortification has the potential to help aid vulnerable populations that are currently not reached by wheat or maize flour fortification programmes. However, rice production is often done domestically or locally which could make reaching all those in need with mass fortification programs challenging.
- Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains or spraying of the surface of ordinary rice grains in several layers with a vitamin and mineral mix to form a protective coating.
- Rice can also be extruded and shaped into partially precooked grain-like structures resembling rice grains, which can then be blended with natural polished rice. Rice kernels can be fortified with several micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc.
Fortification of rice with iron is recommended as a public health strategy to improve the iron status of populations, in settings where rice is a staple food.*
Fortification of rice with vitamin A may be used as a public health strategy to improve the iron status and vitamin A nutrition of populations.
Fortification of rice with folic acid may be used as a public health strategy to improve the folate nutritional status of populations.
* A staple food, or simply a staple, is a food that is consumed regularly and provides an important proportion of the energy (calories) and nutrient requirements. Its preparation is variable in different contexts and is closely linked to the most available foods in each setting.