October 27 was not a business-as-usual day for Mother Dairy milk vendors. For over four decades, the milk trucks had been bringing the same homogenised toned milk and refilling the bulk vending machines in the National Capital Region. On that Thursday morning, they were told that the milk was different. The look, taste and price were the same but a poster next to the vending machine explained that the milk was enriched with extra vitamins.

The poster carried a logo ‘+F’ with a ring around the letter, enclosing it in a square box. With this logo, Mother Dairy, the third largest milk producer in India after Amul and Karnataka Co-operative Milk Producer’s Federation, became the first company to sell a fortified staple food in India which adhered to the government standards.

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), that square in the logo represents its completeness, ‘plus’ sign signifies addition of extra nutrition, and the ring around the letter ‘F’ illustrates the ring of good health, protection and an active life. FSSAI is convinced that Mother Dairy, may have become the first company to use the logo but it certainly won’t be the last.

Wheat flour, rice, salt, milk and vegetable oil producers have been enthusiastic since FSSAI released voluntary food fortification standards on October 16. Industry analysts predict that by next year, super markets will be overflowing with fortified staple foods flaunting this logo. But remember, these standards are voluntary, not mandatory. Yet many believe this would bring down the prevalence of ‘hidden hunger’ in the Indian population.

Wait, hidden hunger?

Hidden hunger refers to a body’s need for nutrition even when the stomach is full. Also called micronutrient deficiency. It affects one in three people globally but women and children in India are afflicted much more than the global average. Overall, it is estimated that Indians consume far less micronutrients—vitamin A, D, iron, folic acid and zinc—than required. The food regulator believes, the intake for most micronutrients is less than the recommended dietary allowances and in most cases the gap between consumed and required ranges from 50-70%.

Micronutrient Deficiency in India

the intake for most micronutrients is less than the recommended dietary allowances and in most cases the gap between consumed and required ranges from 50-70%

Food companies which have fortified their food products and not passed the cost on to the consumer deserve a pat on their back. However, the story of fortified food in India is not complete without a look into the darker side of fortified processed foods that have fooled the consumer with false claims of its health benefits. The burden of overselling fortified foods is borne by the government as much as the industry.


Ruhi Kandhari

Ruhi writes on the impact of healthcare policies, trends in the healthcare sector and developments on the implementation of Electronic Health Records in India. She has an M. Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at support@the-ken.com detailing the error or queries.