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Folic Acid and Iodine in Australian and New Zealand Bread

Author: Disabled World(i) : Contact:

Published: 2009-01-03 : (Rev. 2019-11-30)


Mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid (Australia) and iodine (Australia and New Zealand) was introduced from September 2009 under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Key Points:

Main Digest

Deficiency rates were lower among children, with ten per cent of toddlers not getting enough iodine, but they were significantly higher among women aged 19 to 49.

Mandatory folic acid and iodine fortification of bread resulted in increased levels of folic acid and iodine in the food supply, increased folic acid and iodine intakes, a decreased rate of neural tube defects in Australia, and improved iodine status in the general populations in Australia and New Zealand.

Mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid (Australia) and iodine (Australia and New Zealand) was introduced from September 2009 under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Folic acid is added to wheat flour for bread-making purposes to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. Folic acid is a B group vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in infants.

Iodine is added to bread (as iodised salt) to address the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in Australia and New Zealand. Iodine is a nutrient needed for the development and functioning of the thyroid gland, brain and nervous system, especially in infants and young children. Bread labeled as organic is exempt from the mandatory fortification with folic acid and iodine.

"Insufficient iodine intake, particularly in groups such as pregnant women, babies, and young children, is of great concern,'' said Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Aging Senator Jan McLucas, who released the results.

Senator McLucas said the findings confirmed the necessity for the mandatory addition of iodine to bread in Australia, which would reduce the incidence of inadequate iodine intake to 5%.

Mild to moderate iodine deficiency can result in children having learning difficulties and can affect the development of motor skills and hearing. In extreme cases, children can be born with severe intellectual disability.

A government food scientist, Paul Brent, said;

"While salt iodisation might produce a slightly better coverage for adults, salty diets were not good for the health and analyzers had shown using salt could end up delivering risky levels of iodine to children."

The Australian Total Diet Study tested levels of the trace elements selenium, chromium, molybdenum, nickel and iodine in 96 types of food. It was necessary to strike a balance.

"Bread is eaten by enough people to have a real effect," said Dr Brent, the chief scientist at Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

(i)Source/Reference: Disabled World. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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