Malnutrition is an effect of micronutrient deficiencies that are often unnoticeable which have grave impacts on human health, productivity, and socio-economic development. As such, micronutrients are significant in every stage of life. They are critical to a person’s immune system and their resiliency to infectious diseases. However, due to COVID-19 and its socioeconomic effects, nutritious food has increasingly become unaffordable and inaccessible to the world’s most vulnerable communities. A deepening malnutrition crisis also known as “hidden hunger” continues to threaten our society today.
Majority of the Philippine population struggle to afford a nutrient-rich diet that is needed to help them survive, thrive and fight off infectious diseases. This global pandemic has further reduced consumption of fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy and has increased the consumption of nonperishable foods. The pandemic has intensified this problem of malnutrition as it continues to aggravate “hidden hunger,” negatively affecting child growth and development, and human potential. Therefore, by providing fortified rice, the population will be able to obtain the vitamins and minerals that are needed to stay healthy.
Staple food and condiments are normally used as a vehicle for fortification as they are consumed by the majority of the population. Rice is a staple food and one of the most commonly eaten foods in the Philippines. It is a good and affordable source of energy. Based on a report by PSA, on average, a Filipino consumes a total of 118.81 kilograms annually, which is equivalent to 325.5 grams of milled rice daily. However, compared to the daily recommended intake, white rice does not provide significant amounts of most micronutrients actually needed.
What is fortified rice?