India is fighting a battle against malnutrition and dietary deficiencies with an increasing interest that we have started to take in organic, fresh food. So it didn’t come as a surprise when we invited a Dutch non-profit organization, Access to Nutrition Foundation funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to use their index on Indian food brands to gauge nutritional standards. No more than 12 per cent of beverages and 16 per cent of foods sold by nine leading Indian food and beverage companies were of “high nutritional quality”, according to the Access to Nutrition Index India Spotlight, 2016, the first survey of its kind. The nine companies that were surveyed did not produce fortified packaged food products Fortification is the process of addition of micronutrients – vitamins and minerals to foods to tackle nutritional deficiency. It is known to be an affordable and efficient way to improve micronutrient status in a population.
The products of Delhi’s Mother Diary were ranked the healthiest of the nine companies assessed because 77 per cent of their sales came from drinking milk products. Hindustan Unilever and Britannia were ranked second and third. Nestle India was ranked seventh.”Nestle India is looking closely at the areas where the Index has recommended improvements,” said a Nestle India spokespersonl. “We are trying to explore possibilities of fortifying products across portfolios. Some of our existing fortified products include Masala-e-Magic and CEREGROW.”
The index gives us the blatant truth that manufacturers need to be more transparent about funding and must strive to provide highly nutritious food products to all economic strata of society.”Moreover, other than one or two examples of companies using salt fortified with iodine to make their products, most do not commit to exclusively using fortified ingredients such as wheat or milk,” the index noted. Companies can make a difference by fortifying their products with micronutrients, selling smaller packets and making their products affordable