Food Law News - UK - 2007

FSA News Item, 14 June 2007

FORTIFICATION - Update of FSA Board's folic acid discussion

Today's open meeting of the FSA Board gave the Agency the go-ahead to prepare plans to add folic acid to some food, to make sure the number of babies born with neural tube defects (NTDs) is reduced.

Last month the Food Standards Agency's Board agreed unanimously that folic acid should be added to a food to help prevent NTDs, which can result in miscarriage, neonatal death or lifelong disability.

At today's open meeting, the Board discussed the practicalities of implementing mandatory fortification and controlling the voluntary addition of folic acid to products, such as breakfast cereals and spreads, to prevent over-consumption by some groups.

It gave the FSA a clear framework in which to work, to deliver a balance of benefits:

In doing so, the Agency should also:

The Board had already agreed that there should be clearer advice to those planning a pregnancy to take supplements.

The recommendation package will shortly be made to UK health ministers.

FSA officials will take forward implementation, involving a range of interested parties, in order to achieve the desired outcomes. The FSA's Board will be kept up to date on progress.

FSA Chair Deirdre Hutton said: 'Having made our decision in principle last month, we have had a comprehensive discussion today about the practicalities. I think it is clear where the responsibilities now lie and it is for Agency officials to take forward the implentation of this package with industry and other stakeholders.

'This recommendation will prevent many birth defects and will have wider health benefits for the rest of the population.'

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