Mandatory folic acid food fortification in the UK
20 Jan 2015 17:00-18:30
House of Commons
Members discussed the issue of whether mandatory folic acid food fortification should be introduced in the UK in order to reduce the number of children born with spina bifida at their meeting on 20 January. The guest speakers were: Professor Alan Jackson of Southampton University (and former Chair of SACN Working Group on folic acid); Lord Rooker; and Dawn Hardy, Technical Manager of Unbar Rothan Ltd. In 2006 the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) published a report which recommended mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid as the most effective way to reduce this risk; and, in 2009, SACN provided further advice to the Chief Medical Officer on folic acid and colorectal cancer risk, which upheld its previous recommendations, with amendments clarifying the advice on supplement use for particular population groups. The Government has still not decided, however, whether flour in the UK should be fortified with folic acid. Following the meeting Baroness Miller of Chilthorne, Co-Chair of the Forum, wrote to the Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison, telling her that members were “perplexed by the Government’s lack of action on this issue” and “shocked” to be told that a senior Civil Servant had said the Government’s view is that the issue of folic acid deficiencies leading to spina bifida is “well managed through terminations”. Baroness Miller has urged the Government to accept in principle that mandatory folic acid food fortification in the UK is necessary and should be implemented as soon as possible after the election.
Dawn Hardy - January 2015 (375k)