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The forum briefly discussed RA 8976, also known as the Philippine Food Fortification Law of 2000, stipulating that the state must impose mandatory fortification on staple foods such as rice, flour, edible oil and sugar. Many years have passed since the law was enacted, but iron fortified rice (IFR) still remains an unpopular commodity among Filipino consumers. Issues on palatability, appearance and price overwhelmed the supposed benefits one can derive from eating this food.

The forum expects to bring awareness on the technology that effectively addresses the issues preventing IFR from being patronized in our country. Ms. Marcela C. Saises of DOST-FNRI, presented the method of producing iron rice premix (IRP) through extrusion. The procedure uses a more acceptable fortificant, ferrous pyrophosphate, mixed with rice flour and extruded to form rice-shaped kernels. This premix is then blended with ordinary rice in recommended proportions to produce IFR.

The extrusion technology was developed to replace the previous practice of rice coating wherein ferrous sulfate is just sprayed to the surface of the rice to form the premix. The extrusion technique yields IFR that is more acceptable in terms of color and taste, has better nutrient retention even after washing, and is safe for human consumption.

Towards the end of the program, the very first adoptor of the IFR technology in Region XI was introduced. Having been invited in the same forum last year in Compostela Valley Province, Mr. Gaspar Lorono of Loronix Store willingly expressed his desire to collaborate with DOST for the adoption of the said method. He undertook consultations and benchmarking activities to initiate the techno-transfer. Also, he availed of the DOST’s flagship program, the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), to assist him in acquiring the necessary equipment.  

Despite the Philippines perfecting the technology on rice fortification, the population as a whole remains undernourished. DOST-FNRI along with the rest of the DOST, challenged stakeholders and implementing government agencies alike, to push the advocacy of improving the nutritional status of the Filipino citizenry through the adoption and promotion of IFR.