flourAustralian and New Zealand bread-flour will be fortified with folic acid within two years it was announced today (June 22). Adding 200-300 micrograms of folic acid per 100g of flour is expected to prevent between 14 and 49 neural tube defects in Australian unborn babies each year.

breadAmerican, Canadian and Chilean women are already being helped through their pregnancies with folic acid food protection, but British women aren’t as yet. By law our white and brown flour is fortified with calcium, iron, thiamin and niacin but not folic acid. The British Food Standards Agency has been urging the government to order the mandatory fortification of food with folic acid since 2006.

All adults need to consume 200 micrograms of folic acid daily. Women who are hoping to become pregnant are advised to take twice as much – The Department of Health suggests 400 micrograms a day before and during the first three months of any pregnancy.

Eating 200-400 micrograms of folic acid a day is not such an enormous task as it may seem. Folic acid is naturally present in wholemeal flour and my homemade wholemeal breakfast toast with Marmite starts me of with 15 micrograms , lunching on a small portion of fried liver adds another 187 micrograms. If I decide to add another Goddard to the household I should be eating Brussel sprouts and spinach for tea to bring the total up to around the 400 micrograms.

I don’t have to stick to such a digestively difficult regime. The NHS Hillingdon Hospital has helpfully listed 28 other folic rich foods I can eat on their diet factsheet for ‘ladies’ hoping to become pregnant.

The British Egg Information Service’s plan to resurrect their fifty year-old advice to “go to work on an egg” has been stopped by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre. It seems suggesting eating an egg everyday for breakfast breaks Ofcom advertisement rules on promoting a varied diet.

Bolting rhubarb is not a good sign. The twenty year-old rhubarb patch in my neighbour’s allotment is showing all the evidence of being old and tired. Flower-heads are produced when a plant feels its life is threatened – a lack of water or nearing the end of its productive life are the most common reasons. But this is not a time to be down-hearted.

The hazelnut meringue came with embarrassed apologies. It was late and Michael, the chef at The Poolway House Hotel in Coleford, was reluctant to let such a cracked and crumbled meringue leave the kitchen.