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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Emory: Corn Masa Flour Manufacturers Come Up Short in Delivering Critical Folic Acid

The Food Fortification Initiative based at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, recently conducted a nationwide survey using a social media campaign (#FindFolicAcid) to evaluate the impact of a 2016 U.S. Food and Drug Administration guideline recommending voluntary fortification of corn masa flour and tortillas with folic acid (vitamin B9). Their findings from 28 states included 43 unique corn masa flour or corn tortilla products, and confirmed the results from an earlier Rollins study in Atlanta: Most corn masa flour and tortilla manufacturers were ignoring the recommendation. Only three masa flour products included folic acid, and none of the corn tortillas were fortified.

Folic acid (vitamin B9) taken before and during pregnancy has long been proven to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly, birth defects of the brain and spinal cord that can be fatal and cause severe physical disabilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all women of reproductive age take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. Corn masa flour is not required to be fortified with folic acid by the Food and Drug Administration, unlike other enriched grain products.

The social media campaign results were published last week in Birth Defects Research, compiled by Dr. Vijaya Kancherla, along with Ms. Hallie Averbach and Dr. Godfrey P. Oakley.

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