Fortification of foods (Ireland)

Food fortification is defined as the practice of adding vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed foods during processing to increase their nutritional value. The voluntary addition of vitamins and minerals to foods is regulated by means of EU Regulation 1925/2006, which aims to ensure that fortified foods are safe, and to allow for the proper functioning of the internal market. The legislation lists the vitamins and/or minerals that can be added to foods. This Regulation is implemented in Irish Law by means of European Union (Addition of Vitamins and Minerals and of Certain Other Substances to Foods) Regulations 2017 (Statutory Instrument No. 376 of 2017) In relation to the mandatory addition of nutrients to foods, Ireland has had a long debate about the issue of folic acid. Following the publication of healthy eating guidelines for the general population in 2016, it was recognised that dietary intake of folate remains sub optimal In Ireland. A multidisciplinary Committee was established by the Department of Health to review the evidence in support of folic acid supplementation to prevent neural tube defects (NTD). Recommendations published in the 2019 report “Folic Acid Supplementation” by the Department of Health, outline several mechanisms to improve folic acid intake for women of child-bearing age and thereby reduce the risk of neural tube defects. One key recommendation given at the time was to consider the requirements for food fortification with folate. Ireland does not have any national flour mills and relies on the UK for up to eighty per cent of its flour supply. The UK Government decided to proceed with the mandatory fortification of non-wholemeal wheat flour and legislate on this basis in 2021, but the legislation is still not on the Statute Book. If Ireland was to decide on mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid, it will need to complete a Regulatory Impact Assessment, a scientific risk assessment and then notify the European Commission via the Technical Regulation Information System (TRIS) system of Ireland’s intention to introduce fortification of flour with folic acid. This is a very long process and as much of Ireland’s flour comes from the UK, the Irish Government has decided to take time before making a decision on this matter. In the meantime, it has recommended that all women considering pregnancy take a 400-microgram (mcg) supplement of folic acid per day when planning a pregnancy and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 30 May 2024. We recommend you contact a specialised food lawyer for legal advice for your particular circumstances to support commercial decisions which could impact your product or business.