Corn masa flour - used in tortillas, tortilla chips, tamales, taco shells, and corn chips - is a staple food for many Latin Americans including individuals of Mexican and Central American descent in the US, said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
“Our analysis shows that adding folic acid to corn masa flour will help increase the consumption of folic acid by women who consume this flour as a staple in their diet.”
Currently, folic acid - a B vitamin that may help prevent neural tube defects in babies if taken by pregnant women - must be added to certain enriched grains and enriched grain products like breads, rolls, noodles and pasta. It may also be added as an optional ingredient at specified levels in breakfast cereals and certain other foods, such as infant formula and medical foods.
The FDA's decision follows a food additive petition submitted in 2012 by the March of Dimes Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others.
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"Folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, is a B vitamin that when taken by a pregnant woman may help prevent neural tube defects, which are birth defects affecting the brain, spine, and spinal cord. Pregnant women with folate deficiency have a higher risk of giving birth to infants affected with neural tube defects."
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)