Earlier this month, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) published the outcome of the consultation on the proposal to add folic acid to non-wholemeal flour and their intention to mandate the addition of folic acid.
Our view has always been that while it’s for government to decide on public health matters, the milling sector will do all it can to facilitate the decision.
Practical questions still remain, however. When and how will it happen? And how much folic acid will be added?
A new working group, made up of government and industry representatives, has been set up to discuss the matter, as well as definitions, possible exemptions, levels of nutrients and technological limitations, and it’s expected the review will lead to a public consultation on policy options.
Our concerns are as follows:
Firstly, the government and industry must develop consistent messages promoting to consumers the benefits of fortified flour and products made from it.
Secondly, it is important to have consistency across all four nations to ensure that rules are implemented at the same time and do not create unintended barriers to trade.
Thirdly, timings for implementation and transition period are key. Enough time should be set aside to ensure all necessary technological expectations are met, and to review and update labels and product specifications.
We understand that the government’s aim is for the legislation to be laid in 2022, which will include a transitional period before the date of application. However, the UK government and devolved administrations will announce further details on the timelines at a later date. A review and evaluation of the policy will then take place five years after implementation.