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Govt Reviewing Folic Acid Bread Additive Decision

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Kate Wilkinson
Kate Wilkinson

Wellington, May 17 NZPA - The Government's decision to make bakers and supermarkets add folic acid to bread is being reviewed, says Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The issue would be taken to Cabinet by the end of the month and would take into account a market research survey that found 87 percent of people did not want mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid, she said.

The Herald on Sunday reported that Ms Wilkinson had asked officials to review the decision made by the last government.

In 2007 Former food safety Minister Annette King said the decision, jointly made with Australia, was "a triumph for humanity and common sense".

Supporters of the move said New Zealand women were folate deficient and improving their intake would reduce the number of babies born with serious neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and hydrocephalus, by up to 14 cases a year.

But bakers and supermarkets say when the new rules take effect in September they want Government protection from lawsuits because some research shows that it may cause colon cancer.

Opponents of the idea have also raised concerns that the fortification could have side effects such as an increase in the number of twins and bakers have said it would add costs.

They also say it is unlikely women would eat the required 11 slices of bread per day.

Papers obtained under the Official Information Act said research into the positive and negative health effects of folic acid was rapidly developing.

The papers also said reversing the decision could cause problems with Australia as both countries operate under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand agency, which promoted the introduction of folic acid into bread.

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