DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has urged the Government to make progress on the proposed mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid. This issue has been subject to a consultation, but progress has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Carla Lockhart said:
“Folic acid is proven to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies, and while supplements are widely available for expectant mothers, it is also recognised that fortification of flour with folic acid would have a positive effect on ensuring mothers have intake of folic acid before and during pregnancy.
The Government has conducted a consultation that has shown this proposal is widely supported and the merit of it has been accepted. Sadly, progress has been stalled by the impact of Covid-19 and the challenges of the pandemic. Now as we emerge from the pandemic, we need Government to refocus on issues such as this and make progress.
The campaign has been pressed heavily in Westminster by my colleague Nigel Dodds and I’m glad our local Health Minister is supportive of this initiative. I have asked the UK Health Secretary to look at this matter and to make progress as soon as possible.
Back as far as 2015, the mandatory fortification of flour was supported by all four UK Chief Medical Officers, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, the Food Standards Agency and all three devolved Health Ministers, as an effective measure to reduce the incidence of foetal neural tube defects such as spina bifida, hydrocephalus and anencephaly.
The Food Standards Agency has already confirmed that the Northern Ireland Assembly has competence to legislate on this matter, but it is recognised that for the mandatory move to be most effective it would be better implemented across the UK where production takes place."