New Zealand’s Green party yesterday (16 October) issued a “last minute appeal” to the NZ Minister of Food Safety Annette King to offer organic breads exemption compulsory folate fortification requirements.
“While we are generally supportive of the proposal to fortify bread with folate, it must be done in a way that allows consumers some choice, and exempts organic bread and some other bread lines, ” Green Party safe food spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.

A final decision on whether to require the universal mandatory fortification of bread with folate will be made by the Ministerial Council of Food Standards Australia/New Zealand in about ten days’ time.

In 2005, the Green Party pointed out, 84% of consumers told the NZ Food Safety Authority that they opposed the mandatory fortification of all breads, with three-quarters emphasising the importance of consumer choice.

“Consumers who don’t want to eat bread with artificial folate added should have that choice. Under the proposed fortification scheme, those who want bread without artificial additives will be restricted to unleavened bread, pizza bases and hot plate products such as pikelets,” Kedgley commented.

“Organic bread must be exempted, because a cornerstone of organic production is the requirement that synthetic chemicals are not added to organic products.

“There are concerns that fortifying breads with folate could mask vitamin B deficiency, and this is another reason why consumers need to be given some choice,” Kedgley added.

The Bakers Association and various organic bodies in Australia and New Zealand were opposed to the mandatory fortification of all breads, Kedgley said. “Currently, there is no other requirement to mandatory fortify food with synthetic additives, so the proposal is unprecedented,” she concluded.