Neural tube defects are largely preventable by the maternal periconceptual consumption of folic acid. The aim of this study was to examine the levels of synthetic folic acid in foods and the range of food stuffs with added folic acid available to consumers in Ireland at the current time.
Three audits of fortified foods available in supermarkets in the Republic of Ireland were conducted. Researchers visited supermarkets and obtained folic acid levels from nutrition labels in 2004, 2008 and 2013/4. Levels were compared using MS Excel.
The profile of foods fortified with folic acid in 2013/4 has changed since 2004. The percentage of foods fortified with folic acid has decreased as has the level of added folic acid in some food staples, such as fat/dairy spreads.
Bread, milk and spreads no longer contain as much folic acid as previously (2004 and 2008). This may contribute to a decrease in folate intake and therefore may contribute to an increase in NTD rates. Research on current blood concentrations of folate status markers is now warranted.