UK government asks whether to fortify flour with folate

Australia, Canada, the US and more than 60 countries in the world now fortify their flour with folic acid

The UK government is seeking public opinion on its proposal to make it mandatory for flour millers to add folic acid to flour. The process, known as ‘fortification’ would increase people’s folate levels.

In its statement, the government said that raising folate levels in women who could become pregnant would help reduce the number of babies born with birth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord, known as ‘neural tube defects’.

Australia, Canada, the US and more than 60 countries in the world now fortify their flour with folic acid.

The Chief Executive of Food Standards Scotland, Geoff Ogle, added his voice in support of fortification saying: “We, along with the Scottish Government, have long recommended that flour should be fortified with folic acid and limits on other sources of dietary folic acid introduced. “

“We know that folic acid intake among people in Scotland remains low, so this is an important step in improving public health,” Ogle added.

A study published in 2015 concluded that the failure to implement this regulatory measure had caused 2000 preventable cases of neural tube defect since 1998.

Public Health Minister, Seema Kennedy, said: "Women from the poorest areas are less likely to take folic acid supplements and it is right that we do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in society."

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