Food fortification with folic acid: read the new advocacy brief from the Flour Fortification Initiative
2 August 2013 // FFI together with IF are constantly working to raise national and international awareness of the importance of Folic Acid as primary means of protection against Neural Tube Defects (NTDs). IF was represented by Dr. Santosh Karmarkar at the Preparatory Meeting for 'Prevention, Fortification (Folic acid & Iron) & Awareness Campaign' in Maharashtra for NTDs and Anemia.
An estimated 4500 pregnancies in the EU are affected by NTDs every year. 38-50% of pregnancies in Europe are unplanned. Fortifying flour with folic acid reduces the birth prevalence of NTDs by an average of 46%.
30 July 2013 // The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a favourable opinion on the use of supplemental folate to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTD) such as spina bifida and anencephaly. IF member Shine from the UK collaborated with industry associations and the UK Department of Health to submit an application for a health claim with regard to the beneficial effect of folate supplements.
Shine CEO (and IF Board member) Jackie Bland warmly welcomed the news: "We are delighted to learn that EFSA has taken this very positive step and endorsed the role of 400mcg supplemental folic acid in reducing the risk of neural tube defects in pregnancy. I am confident that this will help us all in more robustly addressing what is a serious public health issue, currently affecting 1 in 1,000 pregnancies in the UK and up to 12 in 1,000 pregnancies in other parts of Europe."
26 July 2013 // IF and four of its member organisations participated in a public consultation on the implementation of ERN. The consultation was held by DG Health and Consumers, to assist the European Commission in adopting conditions and criteria that the ERN, and the providers wishing to join ERN, must fulfil. The Commission also needs to develop and publish criteria for establishing and evaluting ERN.
IF and its members used the opportunity to highlight the areas of importance for people with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. Almost all respondents (94%) agreed that the criteria "need of highly specialised healthcare" and "based on high-quality, accessible and cost-effective healthcare" are very important for ERN.