Folic Acid in Flour

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 18th January 2022.

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Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

What recent steps the Government have taken to progress the introduction of mandatory folic acid supplementation in flour to prevent spinal conditions in babies.

Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Following consultation last September, we announced that we would legislate to fortify non-wholemeal wheat flour with folic acid. We are working at pace to move this policy forward, and we have already engaged with industry as part of a cross-Government review of bread and flour regulations. All four nations are now working closely together to develop the draft legislation and impact assessment for future consultation.

Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

I thank the Minister for her answer. As she knows, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has recommended mandatory folic acid fortification of flour. The UK Government launched a public consultation that closed in 2019. In September last year, the UK Government announced that folic acid will be added to non-wholemeal wheat flour across the UK to help to prevent life-threatening spinal conditions in babies. Therefore, can the Minister update the House on the UK Government’s timeline to implement the decision in a wee bit more detail, please?

Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important issue, because fortifying non-wholemeal wheat flour with folic acid will help to prevent hundreds of neural tube defects in foetuses every year. I regret that I cannot commit to a specific timetable, but we need to consult on the draft legislation and will look to give industry appropriate notice. All four nations are working together on the timetable and hope to deliver this important policy as soon as possible.