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Greens welcome six-month folate reprieve

26 October 2006

Greens welcome six-month folate reprieve

Consumers have been given a reprieve with the announcement of a six-month delay of a final decision on the fortification of all bread with folic acid, Green Party Health and Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council yesterday acknowledged concerns about the practicalities of implementation and affordability of folate fortification, and has requested a further review which is likely to take about six months.

"I am pleased that the Ministerial Council has listened to the advice of the Green Party, the baking industry and organic producers and consumers and will take more time to consider this decision," Ms Kedgley says.

"Surveys show that 84 per cent of New Zealanders don't want mandatory fortification, primarily because it would erode consumer choice. The Green Party has been calling for organic breads to be exempt from fortification to allow consumers an alternative, and because organic producers could potentially be crippled by the proposal.

"Many questions also remain around possible adverse effects of folic acid, including the possibility of exceeding the upper level of intake, the danger of masking other vitamin deficiencies. This is another reason to preserve consumer choice.

"Compulsory fortification is a fairly extreme response to the problem of neural tube defects, and must not be rushed into. I hope this review will produce more rational thinking on the matter and result in an outcome which acknowledges New Zealanders' concerns and preserves consumer choice," Ms Kedgley says.

Ms Kedgley is also pleased that the Ministerial Council will consider a report from Food Standards Australia New Zealand on trans fatty acids at its next meeting in May 2007. A National Collaboration on trans fats has just been announced in Australia that will propose initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of trans fatty acids, and Ms Kedgley has called for a similar initiative in New Zealand.

ENDS

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