Skip to main content

Rice fortification: Why no health warning for thalassemia, sickle cell patients?, asks SC

By Our Representative 

In response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by citizens challenging the government's iron fortified rice program, the Supreme Court has directed the Union government to respond to concerns raised which focus on the government’s noncompliance with their own warnings that caution patients of Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Disease to not to consume iron or to use it only under strict medical supervision. Although citizens had written to several government departments as well as some state food commissioners, they received no response.
Clause 7 (4) of the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018 says:
“People with Thalassemia may take under medical supervision and persons with Sickle Cell Anaemia are advised not to consume iron fortified food products”.
The Government of India has been supplying iron-fortified rice in public safety net programs like PDS, mid-day meals, and anganwadis reaching crores of Indians.
As per the Food safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) warning outlined in clause 7(4) of the Food Safety Act, and based on global scientific evidence, patients of haemoglobinopathies like Thalassemia and SCD are contraindicated to eat iron. Consuming iron could lead to adverse outcomes like organ failure for people with such conditions.
However, when the Alliance for Holistic and Sustainable Agriculture (ASHA) and the Right to Food Campaign conducted fact finding visits in two states, they found that iron rice was being distributed indiscriminately without any screenings or medical supervision and patients of haemoglobinopathies had no idea that the rice was harmful to them. The state governments had not been given any instructions by the center about this warning either.
Beneficiaries of state food schemes eating synthetic iron fortified rice are mostly poor citizens who rely on subsidized food
Given that the rice was being distributed in either loose form or cooked form in some schemes like the mid-day meals, there were no written or verbal warnings provided which were only poorly visible on gunny bags. Moreover, no alternative iron-free rice was being provided to such patients, it was found.
The beneficiaries of state food schemes eating synthetic iron fortified rice are mostly poor citizens who rely on state subsidized food and for whom iron fortified rice has become mandatory since they cannot afford to buy other (non-fortified) rice in the open market, the fact finding report said.
The scaling up of this programme came before a pilot scheme in 15 states was completed, or evaluated independently and rigorously. The evaluation of these pilots was due in late 2022 per an RTI response by the government, but no evaluation is available till date, it added?
The PIL petitioners have demanded that the government comply with clause 7(4) of the Food Safety Act and provide warnings that reach consumers directly. They also demand that non fortified rice is provided for patients with such contraindications.

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.