Compulsory addition of folic acid to bread or flour could hit British suppliers' export markets, it has been claimed.

This week the FSA published a consultation on ways of increasing consumption of folate among young women. Among the options is one for mandatory fortification of bread or flour with folic acid.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has recommended this would be the most effective way to increase folate intake.

But industry sources told The Grocer there were concerns the UK's overseas sales of food products would be hit because some other countries would not welcome bread and flour fortified in this way. There were also concerns about the cost.

However a spokeswoman for Irwin's Bakery, which has added folic acid to all its bread since 2000, said: "No price increases were passed on to consumers."

If folic acid were added to flour, it would not just affect bread, but also products such as cakes and biscuits, said one industry source.