New Report Explores Different Production Methods For Rice Fortification In Developing Nations

May 22, 2008

Washington, DC – May 22, 2008 – A new report identifies the technical and economic feasibility of introducing cost-effective rice fortification programs in developing nations. 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.

Rice is a major diet staple in developing nations, and vitamin and mineral deficiency is often prevalent in these countries. 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 United States.

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.

Methods of Rice Fortification

  • Hot extrusion passes dough made of rice flour, vitamin/mineral mix, and water through a single or twin screw extruder and cuts it into grain-like structures that resemble rice grains. This process involves relatively high temperatures (70-110oC) obtained by preconditioning and/or heat transfer through steam heated barrel jackets. It results in fully or partially pre-cooked simulated rice-like grains that have similar appearance (sheen and transparency) as regular rice kernels. The teams visited two companies in China and one in the Philippines that used this technology.
  • Cold extrusion, a process similar to one used for manufacturing pastas, also produces rice-shaped simulated grains by passing a dough made of rice flour, vitamin/mineral mix, and water through a simple pasta press. This technology does not utilize any additional thermal energy input other than the heat generated during the process itself, thus is primarily a low temperature (below 70oC), forming process resulting in grains that are uncooked, opaque, and easier to differentiate from regular rice kernels. One of the firms visited in Costa Rica uses this process.
  • Coating combines the vitamin/mineral mix with ingredients such as waxes and gums. The mixture is sprayed to the rice on the surface of grains in several layers to form the rice-premix and then is blended with polished rice. Manufacturers in Costa Rica, the Philippines, and the United States use this process.
  • Dusting, observed only in the U.S., involves dusting the polished rice grains with the powder form of the vitamin/mineral premix. The vitamin/mineral mix sticks to the grain surface because of electrostatic forces.

The report also suggests that before initiating a fortification program, consumer preferences, levels of consumption, overall cost, and financial sustainability should be considered. For example, if rice consumption by the target population is low (less than 100 g/day or 36 kg/year), the investment to introduce rice fortification is not justifiable. The cost of rice fortification is estimated between US$10 per metric ton and US$20 per metric ton. This means that the cost of fortified rice would be US$0.36-0.73 or US$1.09-2.18 more per year than the cost of unfortified rice for consumers with usual rice intakes of 100 or 300 g/day, respectively.

To view this report in its entirety please visit http://members.ift.org/IFT/Research/ContractReports/

About IFT
Founded in 1939, and with world headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, USA, the Institute of Food Technologist is a not-for-profit international scientific society with 22,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in the industry, academia and government. As the society for food science and technology, IFT brings sound science to the public discussion of food issues.

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