NZ free to give consumers choice on folic acid - RePress

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Thursday, July 16

NZ free to give consumers choice on folic acid


From the Green Party side:

Green MP Sue Kedgley said there is no Australasian standard requiring New Zealand to fortify bread with folic acid.

"Contrary to what the Minister of Food Safety Kate Wilkinson has repeatedly claimed, New Zealand opted out of the joint standard on folic acid fortification some years ago, and issued its own standard under the New Zealand Food Act 1981," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party’s Food Spokesperson

"Our Food Act requires folic acid to be added to bread, rather than to flour, as is the case in Australia.

"This means that there is no Australia New Zealand Food Standard requiring New Zealand to fortify bread with folic acid, and New Zealand can therefore put our standard on hold and undertake a review, as the Green Party has been calling for."

Ms Kedgley said the intention was that the New Zealand standard would be included in the joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, but this appears not to have happened.

"We therefore call on the Prime Minister to make good his promise to put the standard on hold, while a review is undertaken. While this is happening the Government should work with the Bakers Association and begin voluntarily fortifying some lines of bread."

"It would make sense to fortify highly processed lines of bread, such as white bread, which do not naturally contain folate in them, whereaswholemeal bread does," said Ms Kedgley.

Earlier this year the Food Safety Authority of Ireland recommended putting the fortification of bread on hold. Increasing voluntary fortification in Ireland of certain foodstuffs had led to a decrease in neural tube defects.

"Any bread with folic acid added to it should be labelled, so consumers have a choice," said Ms Kedgley.

"We also believe a public education campaign is urgently needed, to advise women that evidence suggests that if they supplement their diet with folic acid, this will reduce the risk of babies being born with neural tube defects."

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