There is currently a short term supply shortage of folic acid for the fortification of wheat flour for bread making. In response, the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer provided key messages for health professionals giving advice to the women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, and aged 16-44 years:
Folic acid fortification of wheat flour for bread making was introduced to reduce neural tube defects by helping women enter pregnancy with improved exposure to folate.
• There is a supply shortage of folic acid, which is required for fortifying wheat flour used for making bread.
• Due to this shortage, wheat flour used in bread products may not consistently include folic acid.
• There is no threat to folic acid supplies for the supplement industry.
• Folic acid in bread provides a ‘safety net’ level of folic acid for women. Women planning a pregnancy should follow the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommendations and continue to take a daily folic acid supplement at least one month before, and three months after conception. This is in addition to eating a healthy and varied diet as recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
• The target population of women aged 16-44 years are also encouraged to consume other food sources of folate which include dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, citrus fruit, fruit juice, legumes such as lentils and peas, and whole grains.
Given this shortage, it is important that health professionals continue to highlight these nutrition messages in their interactions with clients/patients in the target population of women of child-bearing age.
For more information refer to the media release:.