Bread & Flour Regulations
There is a long history of specific regulation for bread and flour in the United Kingdom, dating back to at least the reign of King Edward 1st in the thirteenth century. The sector is still controlled by the Bread and Flour Regulations, although some the provisions have been overtaken by more general legislation on additives and weights and measures.
What do the regulations require?
The Bread and Flour regulations specify that four vitamins and minerals must be added to all white and brown flour, but not wholemeal. These are calcium, iron, thiamine (Vitamin B1) and niacin (Vitamin B3).
Why do these requirements exist?
These requirements were introduced in the middle of the 20th century to ensure that these nutrients were being consumed in sufficient quantity. The position was reviewed by government advisory committees at the end of the 1990s, reaching the conclusion that this statutory addition of nutrients continued to play an important part in the overall diet.
Do they have a significant effect on nutritional intake?
Yes. Wheat flour (including the flour in bread and baked products) accounts for 35% of the nation's calcium intake, 31% of the iron intake and 31% of the thiamine intake.
Do the regulations affect imported bread and flour?
Under the principle of mutual recognition, flour and bread imported into the UK does not need to be fortified.
What about folic acid?
The government is considering whether to fortify flour with folic acid as well, to prevent the incidence of neural tube defects in some pregnancies.