Sir; The Food Standards Agency will next month launch a UK-wide consultation into whether bread should be fortified with folic acid (The Grocer, April 8, p8). It is expected to take the bakery industry up to two years to respond if the agency gets its way and mandatory inclusion of folic acid is imposed.
However, consumers in Northern Ireland will not have to wait that long as, in 2000, Irwin's became the only bakery in Northern Ireland to add folic acid (100mcg per 100gms of bread) to its breads specifically to help tackle the province's comparatively high incidence of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, by providing women with an easy way of introducing more folic acid into their diet. Since then, Irwin's has developed a full range of enhanced folic acid 'smart' breads, including its Standard White pans, Low GI White, Hi Top pans, Nutty Bran, Hi Fibre and all its Rolls.
The current focus by FSA on bread as an ideal vehicle for folic acid also coincides with the award to Irwin's of a significant R&D grant from the Irish Central Border Area Network, specifically in recognition of the bakery's progress within the functional food sector.
We intend to use the £28,000 to support our development of a range of bespoke 'smart' breads aimed at tackling a range of health concerns specific to Northern Ireland.