A new study has concluded that folic acid, which is also known as vitamin B9 and is known to help prevent spina bifida in unborn babies, will not harm the general public. The government has now been urged to make the addition of folic acid to flour mandatory, which is already the case in 81 other countries.

The fact that the UK is yet to follow suit is partly due to an American study that took place back in 1998, stating that higher doses of folic acid could have a negative impact on health. According to Professor Wald, from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, this has now been proved as a statistical error.

One of the challenges now is that while there is a solid piece of research on this subject, it might not be enough to convince those who believe there are harmful side-effects. Another challenge is that many consumers like to see ingredients they recognise being used in the food and drink they buy – and people may prefer to make the decision to supplement their diet themselves, rather than having food fortified with a particular ingredient, particularly an ingredient they might not have heard of.

The nutritional properties of folic acid are not as well-known as other vitamins, such as Vitamin C. Manufacturers will nefeated to raise awareness of folic acid as an ingredient, and create a link between folic acid and its positive impact on health. As well as preventing birth defects in pregnancy, these include helping the body to form healthy red blood cells, improved immune system, and contributing to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Since folic acid is a key vitamin for pregnant women, manufacturers might benefit from producing products specifically targeting pregnancy while making clear that the product is fortified with vitamin B9.

Consumers enjoy products that are specifically made for them, and can cater for their needs. For example in Chile, Ideal branded range of bread for women was launched back in 2014, containing vitamins and minerals that women would need more than men. This specificity can become even more niche by creating bread that is high in folic acid specifically targeted at pregnant women. Brands have the power to educate consumers about ingredients and have an influence on their daily diet.