In a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and 58 other members of Congress called on USDA and HHS to clarify the importance of folic-acid-enriched grains in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set to be finalized this fall.

In February, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its report, which mistakenly included enriched grains in the refined grains category and urged a reduction of consumption. Folic acid fortification of enriched grains has led to a 36 percent reduction of neural tube defects since 1998, a success that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touts as one of the top 10 health achievements of the decade.

“The American Bakers Association applauds the hard work of Congressman Roskam and the many other members of Congress toward protecting the health of women and infants in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines,” says ABA president and CEO Robb MacKie. “This bipartisan support for the role of grain foods fortified with folic acid is critical to the continued improvement of the health of women and infants.”

“If USDA and HHS fail to recognize the importance of folic acid fortified grains,” says Mike Goscinski, ABA manager of government relations and public affairs, “it would be a big setback for women’s and infants’ health, particularly in the Hispanic community where NTDs are much more prevalent.”

“We look forward to working with the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture in developing strong, science-based dietary guidelines that communicate the vital role of both enriched and whole grains in a healthy, balanced diet,” adds MacKie.

In addition to ABA, several other groups have expressed support for Roskam’s letter to USDA and HHS: Grain Foods Foundation, Independent Bakers Association, March of Dimes Foundation, National Pasta Association, North American Millers’ Association, Spina Bifida Association, Tortilla Industry Association, USA Rice Federation and Wheat Foods Council.