Folic acid should be added to all bread, the Government's food watchdog has ruled.

The recommendation has been made by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, following new evidence which suggests previous studies that indicated a link between folic acid and cancer were inaccurate.

Should the government act on the recommendation, it would become the first mass medication to be undertaken in the UK since the fluoridation of water in the 1950s.

In 2007, US studies indicated a link between the consumption of folic acid and the development of cancer, particularly colon cancer.

However the FSA has now said that there is not enough evidence to prove a link following an announcement by independent body the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.

"SACN has concluded that the new evidence does not provide a substantial basis to change its previous recommendation for the introduction of mandatory fortification with folic acid, with controls on voluntary fortification. However, SACN's recommendation has been amended to clarify the advice on supplement use for particular population groups," the FSA said.

If the Department for Health accepts the recommendation, the UK will be the first EU country to follow the US's lead on folic acid. It has been added to flour in the US and Canada since 1998.

In June 2007 New Zealand and Australian Food Ministers also announced they were to make the inclusion of folic acid in bread mandatory. The requirement was to become mandatory within two years but organic and non-yeast breads were exempt.