Bakers back folic acid move by Government

The Government and devolved administrations, which announced the move on 20 September, said this would mean foods made with flour, such as bread, would help combat about 200 neural tube defects each year – about 20% of the annual UK total.

Non-wholemeal flour is already an established vehicle for fortification in the UK and the costs of fortification for the industry are expected to be minimal.

According to the Government the public health decision is not anticipated to require a major overhaul for industrial-scale flour producers. Folic acid will need to be added to the labelling of all foods made with flour – as is the case with other fortification.

Gordon Polson, chief executive of the Federation of Bakers (FOB), the trade association representing all the leading bakeries in the UK, said its members welcomed the move.

Healthy diet

“Bread is already a major contributor to the healthy diet of the nation and an important source of carbohydrate, fibre and a wide range of nutrients, including calcium, iron and B-vitamins,”​ he said.

“The FOB has consistently said that the fortification of flour is a medical decision and as an industry we have always been responsive to what is in the best interests of consumers. Our members therefore remain committed to responding positively to this announcement and look forward to working with Government on the details of adding folic acid to non wholemeal flour.”​ 

Alex Waugh, director of UK Flour Millers said: “Flour, whether white brown or wholemeal, is an ingredient in many foodstuffs and supplies a big proportion of our daily fibre and protein along with essential nutrients such as calcium, iron and B vitamins. If it is decided that folic acid should be added to flour for public health reasons, flour millers will do all they can to overcome any practical challenges to make it happen.”