A decision on the mandatory introduction of folic acid to breadmaking flour has been postponed until the results of two further studies are known.

The Food Standards Agency, the government’s food watchdog, was due to deliver its verdict on folic acid, which can reduce birth defects, this year, but will now not deliver its conclusions until mid-2009.

One of the trials, in the US, is looking at the effect of folic acid on bowel cancer. Another is assessing trials investigating the effect of folic acid on heart disease and cancer.