Tip of the Week: Folic Acid in Enriched Flour - FDA Responds

Under previous food labeling regulations, the terms folate and folic acid were interchangeable. Now that FDA has defined each one separately, how does this impact regulations such as the Standard of Identity for Enriched Flour, which uses only the term folic acid?

With the new nutrition labeling regulations, the FDA has distinguished between food folate (naturally occurring) and added folic acid (a synthetic form). The declaration of food folate and folic acid on the nutrition label will be in terms of the name “Folate” and will be measured in mcg DFE (Dietary Folate Equivalents). The declared value will take into account the increased bioavailability of synthetic folic acid. 

The Standard of Identity for Enriched Flour calls for the addition of 0.7mg of folic acid per pound of flour. In the past, since folate and folic acid meant the same thing, millers would determine the amount of food folate already present in the flour and then supplement with folic acid to reach the 0.7mg per pound level. AIB International posed a question to FDA asking about this differentiation and whether any changes will be made to the Standard of Identity. FDA responded that there would not be any changes and that millers would now have to actually add the 0.7mg of folic acid to the flour on top of the naturally occurring food folate.

For example:

The serving size on a bag of flour is about 30g. Refined wheat flour naturally contains about 9 micrograms (mcg) of food folate per 30g. Adding 0.7mg (700 mcg) of folic acid to a pound of flour equates to about 46.3 mcg of folic acid per 30g serving.

The declaration of Folate in mcg DFE would be calculated as follows:

Folate = [9 mcg (food folate)] + [46.3 mcg (synthetic folic acid) x 1.7] = 87.71 mcg DFE

The %DV wil be calculated and reported based on mcg DFE; in this case it will be 20% after rounding (87.71/400 RDI x 100 = 21.9%).

On the label, this will be reported as:

Folate (Folic Acid 46 mcg) 20%

Reporting the quantitative amount of Folate in mcg DFE in a conventional food is optional but if you want to voluntarily report it, then the label should read:

Folate 88 mcg DFE (Folic Acid 46 mcg) 20%

Did other questions arise while reading our Tip of the Week? Sign up for our detailed webinar that applies FDA's new nutrition facts format to your product labels. The one-hour webinar, Making the Transition to FDA's New Nutrition Facts Label, is only $99 and packed with information for compliance assistance.

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