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Folic acid fortification

IN 2005, the National Committee on Folic Acid Fortification ( NCFAFF) recommended that all bread on the Irish market should be fortified with folic acid on a mandatory basis to help reduce the number of pregnancies affected by NTDs.

However, in 2009, after monitoring the folate status of the population, the Implementation Group on Folic Acid Food Fortification, which was set up to review that recommendation, advised against mandatory fortification. In its final report, the group said there would be no public health benefits to introducing mandatory fortification.

It noted that, as a result of voluntary fortification, women of childbearing age were receiving 30pc more folate in their diets than they were three years previously.

It also noted a reduction in NTDs from 1-1.15 to 0.93pc per 1,000 births between 2005 and 2009. “ This is close to the lowest level that can be achieved through folic acid fortification of food, therefore any further steps in this area would not provide much additional protection and mandatory fortification is no longer necessary at this time,” said the group’s chairman and the CEO of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Alan Reilly.

“ However, our advice for women of childbearing age who are sexually active remains the same – they should ensure they receive the recommended level of 400 micrograms of folic acid every day to assist the prevention of NTDs.”

See www. folicacid. ie for further information.