Washington, May 31 : A new report has identified the technical and economic feasibility of introducing cost-effective rice fortification programs in developing nations.
Under a cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Academy for Educational Development (AED) collaborated with the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) to conduct a four-country assessment of rice fortification with a review of production and fortification techniques in China, Costa Rica, The Philippines and the US.
Rice is a major diet staple in developing nations, and vitamin and mineral deficiency is often prevalent in these countries.
The new report notes that the addition of essential nutrients through rice fortification provides the consuming population with much needed vitamins and/or minerals, while it also remains a cost effective means of ensuring a stronger, healthier nation.
Researchers studied four fortification methods, including hot extrusion, cold extrusion, coating and dusting of rice.
The authors concluded that the cold extrusion and coating method-similar to the process involving pasta production-could be a practical way to introduce fortified rice in developing nations.
The study notes that the hot extrusion method produced the best quality product and maintained the most nutrients; however, it was the most expensive of the four.
While dusting is the least expensive method, it is not recommended for developing countries where washing and rinsing rice before cooking is common and it results in nutrients being washed away.
The report also suggested that before initiating a fortification program, consumer preferences, levels of consumption, overall cost, and financial sustainability should be considered.