Folic acid fortification

What is folic acid and why is it needed?

Folic acid, known as folate when found in its natural form in food, is a water-soluble vitamin. Humans have a daily dietary intake requirement of 200mcg. This vitamin is necessary to produce and maintain new cells and is therefore especially important during periods of rapid new growth such as during pregnancy, where a dose of 400mcg is recommended. Inadequate blood levels of folate at this time increase the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs).

Is flour fortified with folic acid?

No. Mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid has been under consideration in the UK for many years, but due to continuing concerns over adverse effects in some fractions of the population no decision has been reached.

The Government ran a consultation on the matter, which closed in September 2019. It looked at seven main areas, with questions that covered: 

  • Agreement/disagreement with the proposal for mandatory fortification
  • Which products should be included
  • Alternative approaches to help reduce Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)
  • How individuals and businesses might be affected by mandatory fortification 
  • Should there be limits on voluntary fortification of other food products?
  • Cost/benefit analysis
  • Practical issues for businesses

As of May 2020, the UK goverment has not issued any recommendations folowwing the consultation, though the matter is still live and something is expected. 

What is the milling industry position?

nabim has always held the view that it is for government to decide upon public health matters. Should the government decide to introduce mandatory fortification, the flour milling industry would work with them to find the best way of achieving this.