Update from the Prevention Research Team, NCBDDD – FDA Approves Fortification of Corn Masa Flour
On April 14, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they will permit fortification of corn masa flour with folic acid to help prevent certain birth defects, effective immediately. The announcement reflected a decision to accept a Citizens’ Petition filed in 2012 by the March of Dimes, American Academy of Pediatrics, Spina Bifida Association, National Council of La Raza, Royal DSM and Gruma Corporation.
The FDA’s announcement calling for the voluntary fortification of corn masa flour will have a major beneficial impact on reducing neural tube defects, in particular among the Hispanic population. Corn masa flour is used to make products such as corn tortillas, a staple product in the diets of many Hispanics, such as Mexican Americans. Mexican-American women have lower folic acid intake than non-Hispanic white women and are less likely than non-Hispanic white women to take vitamin supplements containing folic acid. Hispanic women also tend to be at higher risk for having a baby affected by a neural tube defect.