Sachin Pilot wants law to fortify milk with Vitamin A

March 13th, 2008 - 10:48 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) Congress parliament member Sachin Pilot wants a legislation to make it mandatory for all dairy firms in the country to fortify milk with Vitamin A as India is home to 40 percent of the world’s malnourished children. Pilot submitted a private member’s bill to the Lok Sabha and sought amendment to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act to include fortification of milk with Vitamin A. He Thursday said the government would support the move.

Pilot was speaking at an event organised by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss foundation governed by the UN and funded by the Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation and the US government.

Almost 46 percent of Indian children under the age of three suffer from malnutrition, according to the survey by the health ministry in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (Unicef).

This figure is worse than that of the sub-Saharan countries. If 35 percent of the children in sub-Saharan region suffer from malnutrition, in china the figure is only eight percent.

Seeking support for the bill, the MP from Dausa in Rajasthan said he with other young MPs sought support of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

“We have got good and positive response from them. Malnourishment among children cannot go on. Our effort is to raise consciousness. It is a severe problem. Fortification of milk is just a small step in this direction,” he said.

“I will present the bill in the current budget session. We want to create awareness in the country, which would match the HIV/AIDS and polio campaigns,” he added.

When milk is processed and the fat content is reduced, Vitamin A and D are removed with fat. “Therefore, toned and double toned milk are low in fat and also low in vitamin A,” he said.

Pilot, a member of the Citizen’s Alliance consisting of young MPs from all parties and celebrities, said Congress MP Mabel Rebello would move a similar bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The legislation would not cost much to dairy firms, as they only have to add soluble to toned milk to fortify it with Vitamin A,” he explained.

To discuss the matter a meeting was organised Wednesday, which was attended by most of the Alliance members.

“This move will have far reaching consequences. All members agreed that it is a positive step. It is a big first step and its early implementation will help the country,” said Pilot.

Though, the milk would be fortified, it would not mean fat contents would be high, said R. Sankar, senior manger and regional representative South Asia, GAIN.

Ninety percent of the children get less than fifty percent of Vitamin A through food, while 80 percent of women get 50 percent of the vitamin, he added.

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