Fortified rice: SC gives Centre four weeks to review expert recommendations

  • The top court was hearing a PIL seeking compliance with clause 7(4) of the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018, which says patients with conditions such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease are contraindicated from consuming iron.

Krishna Yadav
First Published10 Jul 2024, 06:22 PM IST
In April 2022, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the supply of fortified rice through government schemes.
In April 2022, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the supply of fortified rice through government schemes.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the Union government four weeks to decide on including an advisory with fortified rice being distributed through various welfare schemes for people with thalassemia and sickle cell disease as mandated by the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018. 

The bench, comprising Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice K.V. Vishwanathan, asked the government to act upon the recommendations of the expert committee constituted on 30 November 2023. The recommendations aren't public yet.

The top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Rajesh Krishnan and others seeking compliance with clause 7(4) of the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018, which says patients with conditions such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease are contraindicated from consuming iron.

Also Read: Centre in a first may give rice as part of MGNREGS wages

The regulations also stipulate that every package of iron-fortified food should carry a statement: “People with thalassemia may take it under medical supervision, and persons with sickle cell anaemia are advised not to consume iron-fortified food products."

In January, the Supreme Court granted the committee three months to examine the issue and submit its report.

The apex court will next hear the case on 28 August.

In April 2022, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the supply of fortified rice through the public distribution system (PDS), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman-PM POSHAN (erstwhile mid-day meal scheme), and other welfare programmes in all states and Union territories by 2024 in a phased manner.

Also Read: Centre rejigs plan for sale of Bharat rice and wheat

In May, the Madras High Court also directed the Centre to consider the potential risks associated with consumption of fortified rice for some people.

The petitioners argued that the government didn't conduct proper scientific evaluation before the commencement of rice distribution through the PDS and other schemes. They said individuals with certain medical conditions like thalassemia and sickle cell disease should not consume fortified rice, and the supplied rice bags lacked statutory warnings.

Fortification involves adding nutrients not naturally present or present in insufficient amounts to food products.

Also Read: Rice fortification can help tackle our problem of hidden hunger

Earlier, the centrally sponsored pilot scheme on rise fortification and its distribution under the PDS was implemented for a period of three years starting from 2019-20. Eleven states—Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand—successfully distributed fortified rice in their identified districts (one district per state) under the pilot scheme.

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First Published:10 Jul 2024, 06:22 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaFortified rice: SC gives Centre four weeks to review expert recommendations

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