NZ folic acid fortification delayed to 2012

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: New zealand, Folic acid

The mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid in New Zealand is likely to be delayed for another three years, following heated debate over the risks and benefits of adding the synthetic B vitamin to bread.

The policy, implemented after a joint decision by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), was due to see fortification become mandatory as of September 2009.

However, further to a review of the policy, NZ Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson this week reached an agreement with her Australian counterpart that would exempt New Zealand from the requirement until May 2012.

A consultation document that proposes the deferred introduction of mandatory fortification was due for release today.

Folic acid is linked to preventing neural tube defects among foetuses and newborns and is mandatory in some baked products in countries such as the US, Canada and Chile, but it has also been linked with the onset of some cancers, particularly among the elderly.

Bakers in New Zealand had protested the original decision, saying it added unnecessary costs to production and would not reduce neural tube defects as pregnant women would have to consume 11 slices of bread per day to gain an efficacious dose.

Related topics: Policy, Oceania, Fortification, Bakery

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