The flour used in the UK will have mandatory folic acid fortification to help prevent spinal birth defects in newborns, the government announced. The new rules will only apply to non-wholemeal wheat flour, with gluten-free foods and wholemeal flour exempt.
Prior to the new rule, the government ran a public consultation on the matter in 2019. Women are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for at least a month before conception and up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Folic acid is added to flour in more than 80 countries. Since World War II, the UK’s non-wholemeal flour has been fortified with iron, calcium and two other B vitamins – thiamin and niacin.