Multi nutrient rice kernels can fill gaps in rice fortification Print
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 11:42

Rice fortification in the Philippines began in the early 1940’s.

It was conceptualized by Dr. R.R. Williams, who incidentally also discovered vitamin B1 or thiamine.

Fortifying rice by adding thiamin, niacin, and iron was implemented in the country to alleviate the problem of beriberi or thiamine deficiency.

For instance, after a larger pilot-scale test of fortified rice in Bataan, mortality from beriberi was significantly reduced in the covered areas.

In the following year, mortality from beri-beri was virtually eliminated in covered areas in Bataan.

The success of the rice enrichment experiment in Bataan led to the enactment of the Rice Enrichment Law in 1952, which required all rice millers and wholesalers to enrich rice. Implementing the law had major setbacks, including non-compliance by rice millers to fortify rice.

Since rice millers and traders constitute a formidable sector in the economic and political structure of the country, enforcing the fortification law wavered.

Another hindrance to implementing the law was the high cost of monitoring for compliance throughout the country.

Interest in rice fortification was revived in the early 1980s to help address micronutrient deficiencies. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), has been at the forefront of fortification technology developments since then in support to the Philippine Food Fortification Law of 2000 or Republic Act 8976.

The FNRI, for its part, has made significant researches on rice fortification using extrusion technology.

The FNRI developed an iron rice premix designed to alleviate the persisting iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in the country.

Efficacy studies and market trials of the FNRI shows that feeding with iron fortified rice was cost effective and efficient in lowering IDA prevalence.

The institute also developed rice premix enriched with iron and zinc.

The multi-nutrient extruded rice kernels (MNERK) can help reduce iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and the emerging zinc deficiency in the country.

The FNRI identified the optimum formula using a statistical tool that revealed acceptable sensory response from trained taste panelists.

Results of the MNERK study will be the basis for efficacy studies, market trial, and scale-up productions.

Studies are being conducted on the MNERK to estimate the shelf-life of the premix, determine the retention of the nutrients after cooking and investigate the possibility of incorporating vitamins and other minerals to the kernel.

For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Tel/Fax Num: 8372934 and 8373164; email:,; FNRI-DOST website: — FNRI-DOST S & T Media Service: Press Release- ABBIE L. PADRONES