It was way back in 2019 that I welcomed the UK Government’s plan to introduce mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid.
Folic Acid is recommended by NICE as a supplement to be taken by women prior to and during pregnancy, with clinical evidence demonstrating that Folic Acid helps prevent the incidence of life threatening and seriously debilitating Neural Tube Defects, including Spina Bifida. Over 80 countries across the world, including the USA and Canada, have already acted on this evidence to introduce folic acid into all flour products. Evidence suggests that if we had fortified flour products with folic acid in the 1990s, as many as 3,000 lives of children born with preventable neural tube defects might have been saved.
Progress is still ongoing in making this happen, so last week I wrote to ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his timescale is for implementing the decision to fortify non-wholemeal wheat flour with folic acid.
The reply came as follows:
Following consultation, the Government announced in September 2021 that it would legislate to fortify non-wholemeal wheat flour with folic acid. The Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have engaged with industry as part of a cross-Government review of bread and flour regulations. The four United Kingdom nations are now developing the legislation and impact assessment with the intention of consulting on the draft provisions in summer 2022.