Press Release
March 11, 2007

Recto Urges Govt to Use Vitamin-Fortified Flour
for School Feeding Program

To address the problem of illiteracy and malnutrition among children, Sen. Ralph Recto has called on the government to purchase only flour fortified with essential vitamins and nutrients for the food-for-school program. Recto said since the government needs to spend around P2 billion to provide a healthy breakfast for the estimated 1.1 million school children for each day in school, it might as well judiciously spend the money by buying flour that is amply fortified with Vitamin A and iron, as what , in particularly Vitamin A.

Based on a recent study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Vitamin A deficiency has been the major cause of Filipino children 12 years old and below to fall under the classification of malnourished, and a big number of them can go blind as the problem persists.

He urged the concerned government agencies implementing the food-for-school program to provide food like pan de sal or noodles that use fortified flour.

It is hitting two birds with one stone, he said.

Recto added the food-for-school program ensures that elementary school pupils would be healthier and reduces the number of school dropouts.

This, he added, will stop children from being sucked into the labor market. Being a signatory to international covenants protecting children, it is illegal for anyone in the country to employ child labor.

He also appealed to traders to import commodities that follow the provisions of the Fortification Law.

Republic Act 8976 is very clear on this matter. Any product wishing to enter the Philippine market must follow the Fortification Law, which is anchored on our campaign to provide micronutrients to a large segment of the population, the Senator said.

We appeal to the patriotism of our traders. The law was enacted precisely to fight malnutrition and battle diseases associated with the lack of vitamin A and iron, he added.

Traders should understand that the spirit and letter of the law are noble since the beneficiaries of the Fortification Law are the millions of malnourished children, those below school age and those who are having a tough time in school because they lack proper nutrition, Recto said.

Based on an analysis made by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) early this year, some brands do not conform to the specifications of the tests conducted for Vitamin A and iron.

According to the law, wheat flour should have 3 mg/kg to 6.5 mg/kg for Vitamin A and between 70 mg/kg to 105 mg/kg for iron.

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