Folic acid looks more likely to be compulsorily added to bread after Food Standards Agency (FSA) research found that 50% of the population backed the move.

The FSA will decide in the next week whether to recommend that the Department of Health introduces folic acid as a mandatory additive; the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy have already reported that this would reduce the number of babies born with spina bifida.

Federation of Bakers’ director Gordon Polson said the decision to fortify bread should be a medical one but added there would be a number of considerations if the move got the go-ahead. "The most practical way of adding folic acid would be at the flour mill rather than at a manufacturing plant - it wouldn’t be something we’d want to do," he said. "It wouldn’t be practical."