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Delay In Bread Fortification Sensible

26 October 2006

Delay In Bread Fortification Sensible

The announcement of a six-month delay in the mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid shows that commonsense has prevailed, at least in the short term, says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson, Barbara Stewart.

“The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, at its meeting in Sydney today, has decided not to immediately implement a previous decision to fortify all bread with folic acid in order to reduce the number of neural tube defects in new born babies.

“Many New Zealanders, if not a majority, will be unaware that such decisions can be made on their behalf without the benefit of thorough scrutiny by a parliamentary select committee, debate in Parliament or any other reference to the general population.

“The aim is to protect babies from neural tube defects but research has shown that pregnant women would have to eat as many as 11 slices of bread per day to receive the benefits of mandatory fortification.

“A logical alternative would be to add folic acid to some breads only and increase public education with a particular focus on women of childbearing age rather than dose the entire bread-eating population with a food additive.

“Interfering with food on a population-wide basis without the benefit of adequate scrutiny also sets an unfortunate precedent. The public should be made aware of such actions before they take place, not after,” said Mrs Stewart.

ENDS

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