Give us this day our daily it-might-not-be-safe-but-you’re-getting-it-anyway fortified bread

July 13, 2009
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So, not long now until we start getting doses of folic acid forced upon us.

For those of you who missed this particular gem: from September, bakers here in New Zealand must (by law) add folic acid to bread under the new food standard adopted by New Zealand and Australia.

The whole thing was signed off by the former Labour government in what then-food safety minister Annette King called “a triumph for humanity and common sense”.

Common sense my arse.

While folic adic during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects in babies, the experts reckon the average pregnant woman will have to eat about 11 slices of bread a day to reap the benefit.

Yes, 11 slices. But wait, there’s more.

Some research in Britain and Ireland links use of folic acid as a dietary supplement to a growing incidence of several types of cancer.

Current food safety minister Kate Wilkinson — said she was “not a fan” of the folic acid requirement and shared concerns about the potential health risks — has agreed to go ahead with the plan because she reckons we have to, since it’s a standing agreement with the Aussies, but now she’s also finally said she also want a review. However, that review won’t take place until a month after we get stuck with the folic acid additive.

Bakers around the country aren’t happy with the situation, either.

Surely it’s up to the pregnant women themselves to ensure they have enough of everything. Surely that’s why we have a healthcare system that looks after pregnant women.

From what I’ve read, there aren’t large numbers of women giving birth to babies with affected by a lack of folic acid and there would be few women eating enough of the soon-to-be tainted bread to get any benefit so why the hell should the rest of the population be put at any sort of cancer risk?

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