Fortified Foods

As of January 1, 1998, all cereal grain products in the United States labeled as "enriched" (e.g., bread, pasta, flour, breakfast cereal and rice) and mixed food items containing these grains were mandated by the Food and Drug Administration to be fortified with folic acid. It is required that all enriched products contain 140 mcg of folic acid per 100 g of product [25]. It is estimated that several thousand food items in the US food supply now contain folic acid derived from enriched cereal grain ingredients [26]. Significant increases in blood folate concentration in response to folic acid fortification in the United States have been documented in a number of studies including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [27]. The observed increase in blood folate postfortification is greater than expected and, based on the analysis of a large number of fortified foods, has been attributed to overages by the food industry [28]. It is estimated that the increase in folic acid intake due to fortification may be as high as two times greater than originally predicted [29].

Ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereals contribute significantly to folate intake in the United States since the majority of RTE breakfast cereals in the US marketplace contain approximately 100 mcg/serving of folic acid, and a smaller number contain400 mcg/serv-ing. Folic acid is an added ingredient in a large number of other commonly consumed RTE products including breakfast bars, nutritional bars, and snack foods.

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