Maya Rao

Maya Rao

Department: Global Health, 2014

Description of work:
As a research assistant with the Flour Fortification Initiative, I investigated current policy and practices of regulatory monitoring for the Dominican Republic's national wheat flour fortification program. During the 9 weeks I spent in the Dominican Republic, I completed a desk review of regulations, guidelines and government reports in Spanish relating to fortification and nutrition, observed Quality Assurance/Quality Control practices at six flour mills and eight laboratories, conducted meetings with milling industry personnel, government officials and other stakeholders, designed field protocol and data collection tools, and collected samples of wheat flour products for quantitative analysis of iron content. After compiling and analyzing the information I collected, I generated a 30-page final report, executive summary and presentation in Spanish in order to present key findings and recommendations to government and industry stakeholders. Through my investigation, I was able to determine that all six flour mills in the country are fortifying their wheat flour with the micronutrients specified by the national regulation, micronutrient levels in flour samples were inconsistent (with some samples below or above the recommended thresholds), food control and flour millers are monitoring the quality of the fortified flour, neither government nor consumer protection agencies are conducting commercial monitoring of fortified flour, and monitoring in all areas can be strengthened. The National Commission on Micronutrients planned to use the findings presented in my report to generate a revised regulatory monitoring plan for the fortification program as well as additional trainings for flour millers and government food inspectors on quality assurance and quality control.

Faculty Advisor: Helena Pachón, RSPH

Partner Organization: The Flour Fortification Initiative, the Pan American Health Organization, the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panamá and the Dominican Republic's Ministry of Public Health

Recognition:

  • Recipient of travel funding from the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama
  • Recipient of the RSPH Global Field Experience Grant