An effective tool for micronutrient fortification
PATH’s Ultra Rice fortification technology has been studied extensively. Rigorous lab testing, efficacy trials, and consumer-acceptance studies have all proven it to be an effective tool for reducing malnutrition in rice-consuming populations. Read more in a research table outlining more than 20 studies.
Combating vitamin A deficiency
In Brazil, researchers provided 83 children aged one to six years with Ultra Rice fortified with vitamin A. The number of vitamin A–deficient children decreased from 50 percent to less than 10 percent in a single month. In another year-long study in several preschools, the incidence of vitamin A deficiency dropped dramatically from roughly 50 percent to 0.
In safety studies in Canada and Brazil, researchers supplied non-pregnant women with Ultra Rice fortified at levels high enough that it could deliver enough vitamin A to combat deficiency in children who consumed it as only 10 percent of their diet. After analyzing the women’s serum levels of retinoic acid over time, the researchers concluded that it would be impossible to consume enough fortified rice to cause harm, even in pregnant women.
Providing essential iron
In Mexico, a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted among non-pregnant women who consumed Ultra Rice fortified with iron once a day at their workplace canteen. After six months of eating Ultra Rice, the iron status of the women improved and the prevalence of anemia decreased by 80 percent—statistically significant results relative to changes in the control group.
In 2007, with the financial support of the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology, India’s National Institute of Nutrition conducted a study assessing the impact of midday meals fortified with iron-rich Ultra Rice on the iron status of schoolchildren. The iron stores (measured by serum ferritin levels) of the children who regularly consumed Ultra Rice were significantly greater compared to the control group. The incidence of morbidities among those who consumed Ultra Rice was also reduced significantly relative to the control group during the study period.
Groundbreaking research published in The Journal of Nutrition found that rice fortified with iron-containing Ultra Rice was more effective than iron supplement drops at addressing iron deficiency in Brazilian children 6 to 24 months of age. The research—which has encouraged demand for Ultra Rice in Brazil—was conducted by Dr. Mark Beinner, PhD, RN, and Associate Professor of Nursing and Public Health at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Dr. Beinner’s research on Ultra Rice was awarded the Kellogg Prize for Research Excellence at the 2010 XV Congreso Latinoamericano de Nutrición.
In sensory evaluations in Ecuador, Colombia, and India, the majority of consumers positively rated the fortified rice. Trained food panelists agreed that Ultra Rice was similar in taste, texture, and smell to traditional rice.
In analyses of nutrient retention—after repeated rinsing, soaking, and cooking—almost all the iron in the Ultra Rice grains was retained. As iron is a mineral, little to no loss was expected, but some vitamin loss was expected. About 20 percent of thiamin (vitamin B1) was lost under the aforementioned conditions. When the Ultra Rice grains were cooked in excess water, a preparation technique often used in industrial kitchens, the loss increased to approximately 40 percent. PATH anticipates and accounts for these losses by adding appropriate vitamin and mineral overages to the Ultra Rice formulation, thereby ensuring that each serving of fortified rice meets target fortification levels.
The nutrients protected inside the Ultra Rice grains remain relatively stable even under challenging storage conditions. When stored for six months at 45°C (113°F) at both 60 and 100 percent relative humidity, multi-micronutrient Ultra Rice retained 100 percent of its iron, zinc, and folic acid and nearly 80 percent of its thiamin and (in a separate grain) vitamin A. Cycle times for rice milling, storage, and consumption are typically three to six months. The impact of these challenging storage conditions on color and taste was negligible due to minimal lipid oxidation.
While the strength of our existing research allows us to move forward with global introduction and scale-up, we continue to test and refine our formulation to broaden our reach. Ultra Rice is now manufactured by several private-sector companies, and our many distribution partners, including regional and municipal governments as well as NGOs, continue to integrate Ultra Rice into large-scale meal programs. We are also working toward integrating fortified rice into food aid programs, as well as commercial retail channels that reach the poor. Every step of the way, PATH is documenting our project impact and helping to advance rice fortification globally.
Ultra Rice is a registered trademark of Bon Dente International, Inc., in the United States.