TVNZ/NZPA: Australia shifts to compulsory folic acid in bread

The NZPA reports that folic acid fortification of bread in Australia becomes compulsory this week.  The subject provoked a public furor when discussed in New Zealand earlier this year.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“The previous Labour government was set to have the rule implemented this year, but National wasn’t so keen on the idea, deciding instead to let bakers introduce it voluntarily while it considers its options.

“Food Standards Australia New Zealand chief scientist Paul Brent said today that adding the form of B vitamin folate to bread would greatly reduce the risk of babies being born with spina bifida.

“In Australia, about 300 to 350 pregnancies were affected each year by a neural tube defect like spina bifida.

“”Mandatory folic acid addition to flour has been used safely in the United States and Canada for over 10 years where rates of spina bifida have significantly decreased,” Dr Brent said.”