First standard demonstrating increased zinc in grain for human food

30 September 2021

BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, specifies requirements for zinc enriched maize, rice and wheat intended as food for human consumption in a new standard.

The standard, PAS 233: Zinc enriched wheat, maize and rice grain – Specification, provides an important tool for private and public enterprises in the food supply chain that procure and sell grain for human consumption, as well as governments, and associated quality and compliance agencies. It sets out good practice requirements for class levels of zinc concentration, sampling guidance, packaging, and labelling.

By specifying the parameters of increased zinc content seed obtained by conventional farming methods, this standard intends to enable greater transparency in the food value chain. Governments and their agencies wishing to improve nutrition in staple crops and resulting foods for their population’s health and wellbeing will be able to follow the good practice set out in the standard, and organizations producing foodstuffs using these crops can be assured of their provenance

Sara Walton, Sector Lead for Food Standards at BSI, said: “We are proud to have led the development of the first specification for zinc enriched wheat, maize and rice grain.   With greater awareness of how micronutrients in the diet, such as zinc, help prevent disease, it is vital to disseminate knowledge and consistent criteria in a common standard, so that crops produced by this method can be assimilated into the food supply chain.”

Arun Baral, CEO of HarvestPlus, said: “This new standard is a significant leap forward in our global efforts to embed these nutritious crops in food systems, by enabling grain procurers to demand high-quality zinc wheat. This is the first of three standards for nutrient enriched grains that we will promote for adoption by all value chain players and thereby advance commercialisation of these crops.”

The standard has been developed using the principle of consensus by a steering group1 of representatives from the international food eco-system, including producers, manufacturers, nutritionists and testing laboratories.

This standard is sponsored by HarvestPlus through the Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops Programme, which is co-led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and HarvestPlus, and funded by German’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Download the standard at no cost here.

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Notes to the editor:

1Steering Group

Bangladesh Food Safety Authority; BASF Corporation; Fera Science Ltd (Fera); College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University; Food Fortification Advisory Services (2FAS); Food Safety and Standards Authority of India; Food and Markets Department, University of Greenwich; HarvestPlus; OLAM International; and Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP).

About BSI

BSI is the business improvement and standards company that enables organizations to turn standards of best practice into habits of excellence, ‘inspiring trust for a more resilient world’. For over a century BSI has driven best practice in organizations around the world. Working with over 77,500 clients across 195 countries, it is a truly global business with skills and experience across all sectors including automotive, aerospace, built environment, food and retail and healthcare. Through its expertise in Standards and Knowledge, Assurance Services, Regulatory Services and Consulting Services, BSI helps clients to improve their performance, grow sustainably, manage risk and ultimately become more resilient. 

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About HarvestPlus

HarvestPlus improves nutrition and health by working with partners to develop and promote biofortified crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and providing leadership on biofortification evidence and technology. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and is based at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).