Government health ministers are to decide whether bread will be subject to mandatory fortification with folic acid, when the results of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey have been analysed, it has been reported.

The results could end a debate that has been running for years.

Mandatory fortification was previously recommended by the Food Standards Agency - when it handled public health issues. However, British Baker reported back in 2009, that the findings of a study in Dublin suggested mandatory fortification may actually do more harm than good, possibly putting people at a higher risk of accelerating the growth of certain cancers.

The argument for the addition of folic acid in bread, is to prevent spina bifida, and is a campaign that has strong support from many, including Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson.

According to an article in The Telegraph, “mandatory fortification is already used in more than 50 countries, including the USA and Canada, where research suggests it reduces the rate of neural tube defects by 25 to 50%”.

It quoted a Department of Health spokesperson as saying ministers were “currently considering the case of mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid and will reach a decision in the light of new data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.”