Arambula pushing for folic acid in corn flour products

While enriched grain products are required to have folic acid to help reduce birth defects, many Hispanic products have no such mandate.

Asm. Joaquin Arambula (D–Fresno) is looking to require tortilla manufacturers to include a key vitamin that is considered crucial during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects. 

The vitamin is already required nationally for bread, cereal, flour, pasta, rice and other grain products. 


The big picture: Assembly Bill 1830 would require corn masa flour manufacturers to include folic acid in all products. 

  • Corn masa flour is often used in tortillas, corn chips and a variety of Hispanic food. 
  • If AB 1830 is passed, corn masa flour manufacturers would have to include 0.7 milligrams of folic acid to every pound of masa. 

Why it matters: Folic acid – also known as vitamin B-9 – helps red blood cell formation and encourages healthy cell growth and function. 

  • Research has shown folic acid to  be crucial during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine, specifically of the neural tube. 

The backstory: In 1998 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated folic acid in enriched grain products. 

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 35 percent decrease in babies born with neural tube defects since the mandate was put in place. 

What we’re watching: AB 1830 has passed through the Assembly Appropriations and Health Committees and will go to the Assembly floor for a vote. 

What they’re saying: Arambula told CalMatters that it is a “real oversight” that folic acid is not required in corn masa flour. 

  • “Food is the best way that we can get folic acid into our communities before they’re pregnant,” Arambula told the publication. “Oftentimes the prenatal vitamins that we give to pregnant people are too late.” 
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