The UK government is set to announce that folic acid will be added to flour in the UK going forward. It will be added to UK flour in an attempt to help prevent birth defects in babies.
Pregnant people and those trying to conceive are advised to take 400 micrograms folic acid (also known as Vitamin B) a day, which can reduce the chance of birth defects such as spina bifida. But many don’t, so it’s believed adding it to flour could prevent up to 200 birth defects a year.
These new rules will only apply to non-wholemeal wheat flour, so wholemeal flour and gluten-free flour will be exempt.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that folic acid-fortified flour would be “a quick, simple win” to enhance a baby's development, as well as helping to boost the health of UK adults.
And Kate Steele, chief executive of Shine, a charity providing specialist support for people affected by spina bifida and hydrocephalus and which has campaigned for mandatory fortification of flour for more than 30 years, “In its simplest terms, the step will reduce the numbers of families who face the devastating news that their baby has anencephaly and will not survive.
“It will also prevent some babies being affected by spina bifida, which can result in complex physical impairments and poor health.
“This is truly a momentous day.”