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Greens call for folate exemption for organic bread

15 October 2006


Greens call for folate exemption for organic breads


The Green Party is issuing a last minute appeal to the Minister of Food Safety Annette King, to allow organic breads to be exempt from mandatory folate fortification requirements, and thus protect consumer choice.

"While we are generally supportive of the proposal to fortify bread with folate, it must be done in a way that allows consumers some choice, and exempts organic bread and some other bread lines, " Green Party Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

A final decision on whether to require the mandatory fortification of all bread with folate will be made by the Ministerial Council of Food Standards Australia/New Zealand in about ten days time.

In 2005, an overwhelming 84 per cent of consumers told a 2005 New Zealand Food Safety Authority study that they believed mandatory fortification should not apply. Three quarters emphasised the importance of consumer choice.

"Consumers who don't want to eat bread with artificial folate added should have that choice. Under the proposed fortification scheme, those who want bread without artificial additives will be restricted to unleavened bread, pizza bases and hot plate products such as pikelets," Ms Kedgley says.

"Organic bread must be exempted, because a cornerstone of organic production is the requirement that synthetic chemicals are not added to organic products.

"There are concerns that fortifying breads with folate could mask vitamin B deficiency, and this is another reason why consumers need to be given some choice," Ms Kedgley says.

"Currently, there is no other requirement to mandatorily fortify food with synthetic additives, so the proposal is unprecedented.

Ms Kedgley pointed out that a wide coalition of groups, ranging from the Bakers Association, through to the Organics industry, were opposed to the mandatory fortification of all breads, and she hoped that the Government would listen to these voices.

"If the Government is prepared to protect consumer choice, it can implement the proposal in a way that is widely supported, rather than opposed."

ENDS

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