August 6, 2014 — A coalition of 24 health and physician groups last week requested that FDA alter its proposed changes to food and supplement labels, expressing concern that they could result in women not consuming enough folic acid and lead to birth defects, CQ Roll Call reports.
FDA released the proposed revisions to nutrition and supplement facts labels in March. According to the coalition, the revisions would base the suggested daily value of folic acid intake on a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine that all women who might become pregnant should have 400 micrograms of "dietary folate equivalents" per day.
However, in a letter last week to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the groups -- led by the March of Dimes -- said that the proposed changes fall short of the U.S. Public Health Service recommendations of 400 micrograms of folic acid, or synthetic folate, per day.
The groups wrote, "While these numbers appear to be identical, they are in fact functionally different, using two separate units of measurement." According to CQ HealthBeat, folate is a food byproduct, while folic acid is the synthetic form of folate.
As a result, the groups said, the recommended daily amount "is lower than the USPHS recommendation for intake among women of childbearing years." The groups added that FDA's recommended changes regarding folic acid would "lead to public confusion and limit the ability to monitor intake and safety" (Gustin, CQ Roll Call, 8/4).