A New Zealand Herald article outlining how opposition from food industry groups helped defer mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid until at least 2012. Read in full here.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand, on whose advice the last Government proceeded with mandatory folic acid fortification, admits to some uncertainties about the potential health effects of increasing the whole population’s folic acid intake, but says the scheme is safe.
Opponents latched on to this, especially the mention of uncertainty about cancer rates.
Murray Skeaff, professor of human nutrition at Otago University, tried to calm the debate by reporting on a conference he had attended in the Czech Republic in June. Results were presented of a large study looking at various folic acid trials.
He said it showed there was no change in cancer risk, up or down, for those who took folic acid and other B vitamins.
But once a cancer scare is seeded, it is hard to contain.
Canberra-based Food Standards says there had been no similar outcry in Australia over its version of the transtasman rule, which requires millers to add folic acid to the wheat flour used in most bread.