and Australian Food Ministers are to make the inclusion of folic acid in bread mandatory.

At a meeting held in Canberra today (22 June), the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council considered Food Standards Australia New Zealand's (FSANZ) first review report on the draft standard for the mandatory fortification of food with folic acid, and affirmed the draft standard for inclusion in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. 

The requirement is to become mandatory in two years but organic and non-yeast breads will be exempt.

The draft standard requires the mandatory addition of folic acid to wheat flour for bread-making within the prescribed range of 200-300 micrograms per 100g of flour. This level of fortification is expected to prevent between 14 and 49 neural tube defects in the 300-350 affected pregnancies in Australia each year, according to the FSANZ website, when combined with existing voluntary fortification permissions and current levels of supplement usage.  

In New Zealand, this level of fortification is expected to prevent between four and 14 neural tube defects each year.