FSA: Board updated on folic acid and trans fats

By Redazione

At its open meeting in Belfast today, Board members were updated about recent developments on folic acid and trans fats.

Statements providing further information are available below.

Folic acid
In June 2007, the FSA Board recommended fortification of a food (bread or flour) with folic acid to Health Ministers in order to reduce the number of NTD-affected pregnancies. The
recommendation, which was based on advice from the Scientific Advisory Group on Nutrition (SACN), was with the condition that there are controls on voluntary fortification and clear guidance on
the appropriate use of supplements containing folic acid.

The Agency has now received a letter from the Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer of England, on behalf of UK CMOs, requesting SACN to consider in further detail two studies on
colorectal cancer risk which were not published at the time of the SACN report, Folate and Disease Prevention, (2006).

In its report, SACN considered a broad range of evidence for the relationship between folic acid and cancer including results from these two studies (a randomised controlled trial and trends in
colorectal cancer incidence in the USA and Canada). SACN concluded at this stage that the evidence for a relationship between folic acid and increased or reduced cancer risk was unclear.

The Agency carefully considered the issue of cancer risk from folic acid fortification before making its recommendation. Uncertainties in relation to cancer risks were key to the recommendation
for controls on voluntary fortification and advice on use of supplements.

An expert group comprising members of SACN, members of the Committee on Carcinogenicity and other cancer experts, will re-examine the published studies as requested and report back to the CMOs
in the near future. The FSA will keep the Board, consumers and interested parties updated.

Links to the report are available below.

Trans Fatty Acids
The report of the Foresight obesity project has been published today. The report was commissioned by the Foresight Programme of the Office of Science and Technology to support its project on
obesity. Information will be provided to Board members. There was some media activity at the weekend in advance of the launch.

On Monday this week the Agency was asked by the Secretary of State (SoS) for Health to provide advice on trans fatty acids (TFAs) and to submit this by 29 November 2007.

In particular the Agency will consider whether the UK should act to restrict the use of TFAs in light of the work underway in New York City and Denmark.

This is an issue we have looked at in connection with our work on reducing saturated fat intakes, where we have considered the risk of alternatives to TFAs which might prove to be worse in
terms of health impact. We will be providing this advice as requested.

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