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Folate in flour must acknowledge consumer choice

31 July 2006

New folate in flour rules must acknowledge consumer choice

Organic flour must be exempt from mandatory folate fortification and the substance added at the bakery rather than the mill, so that consumers retain a choice, the Green Party says.

Submissions on a FSANZ proposal for mandatory fortification of all flour with folate close today.

"While we are generally supportive of the proposal to fortify flour with folate, in the hope that it will reduce the numbers of babies being born with spina bifida and provide other health benefits, we believe this can be done in a way which doesn't erode consumer choice, Health and Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"The organic standard does not permit mandatory fortification with additives, and we believe organic flours should be exempt for that reason," Ms Kedgley says.

"If fortification takes place at the bakery rather than milling stage, then some bread lines could be available for consumers who may wish to avoid folate enriched flour for health, cultural or other reasons. Consumers currently have the choice of whether they wish to consume iodised or non-iodised salt and I believe that choice should also be available to them with folate fortified bread," Ms Kedgley says.

It is important that fortified products are clearly labelled as such, including a warning relating to the risks of a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be masked by folate, she says.

"It is also essential that an awareness campaign accompany mandatory folate fortification of flour to stress that fortification is unlikely to provide sufficient protection for all at risk groups and that pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant should take folic acid supplements," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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