Latest iodine fortification plan proposed

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Iodine, Salt, Food

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) has published
a final set of proposals to make iodine
fortification mandatory for bread.

After public consultation the proposals will be put to the FSANZ board in July, stating that they require breads to contain between 35 to 55 mg of iodine per kg of salt. A mandatory requirement would add to breadmakers' costs by forcing them to reformulate their products. FSANZ believes fortifying products with iodine is importatn for improving public health, in particular that of young children and pregnant women. Public consumption of iodine had steadly decreased in recent years. The additive is important for thyroid health. It is naturally found in seafood, but levels in vegetables, dairy and meat can depend on the natural iodine content of the soil in which the produce was grown or where the animals grazed. Some table salt is already iodised but people are using less salt in cooking and at the table because of advice to cut down on the ingredient for health reasons. Iodine intake has also been indirectly affected by changes in dairy processing. Milk used to contain higher levels of iodine because of contamination from iodine-based disinfectants but these have gradually been replaced by more effective non-iodine products. To increase uptake, earlier proposals had focused on the possibility of iodising all salt, along with biscuits and breakfast cereals. Both in a move to reduce the cost effects of the legislation on bakers, FSANZ decided that ensuring bread is fortified with iodised salt will best serve the public, due to the high consumption levels of the product. According to FSANZ dietary estimates, 88 per cent of Australians over the age of two consume bread, with 87 per cent of people in New Zealand above the age of 15 also eating the product. By calling for salt and not the actual bread to be fortified, it hopes to reduce both the cost and effort for bread makers. The proposals are unlikely to appease food industry representatives though, who continue to hit out at mandatory fortification. In their own white paper, published earlier this year, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, along with George Weston Foods and Goodman Fielder, questioned making the food industry responsible for important health initiatives. The amended proposals are undergoing public consultation, which ends 6 June.

Related topics: Maternal & infant health

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