Nation-wide failure of voluntary folic acid fortification of corn masa flour and tortillas with folic acid.Birth Defects Res. 2019 07 01; 111(11):672-675.BD
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required all enriched cereal grains to be fortified with folic acid in 1998. In April 2016, the FDA published regulations allowing voluntary fortification of corn masa flour with folic acid to address the high prevalence of folic acid-preventable spina bifida and anencephaly among Hispanics. Our objective was to survey folic acid-fortified corn masa and corn tortilla products in the country using a national social media campaign.
In January 2019, we conducted a social media campaign (#FindFolicAcid) engaging citizens nationwide to survey local stores for folic acid in corn masa flour and corn tortilla products. Photos of products and nutrition labels were shared with the researchers on various social media portals (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). The posts were summarized for a descriptive analysis.
People from 28 states shared photos of 132 products, including 43 unique corn masa flour or corn tortilla products. Of those, only three corn masa flour products included folic acid: (a) Maseca Instant White (4.4 lb bag); (b) Masa Brosa Instant; and (c) Masa Brosa Instant Blue. None of the corn tortilla products were fortified.
There is a failure of voluntary folic acid fortification of corn masa flour and products nationally. Until folic acid fortification of corn masa products is implemented fully in the country, Hispanic women of reproductive age should take a daily vitamin supplement which includes at least 400 mcg of folic acid to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly.