THE ministerial council has asked Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to consider developing a food standard for the mandatory fortification, which, if passed, would result in iodine fortification of breakfast cereals, breads and biscuits, by replacing the salt in these products with iodised salt.
FSANZ has called for public comment on the proposal.
“New Zealand and parts of Australia have had iodine deficiencies in the past and this was addressed mainly through the use of iodised table salt,” said FSANZ chief scientist Dr Marion Healy.
“However, changes in food supply and possible reduction in the use of added salt in cooking and at the table consistent with dietary recommendation to eat less salt are likely reasons for the apparent reduction of iodine in people’s diets.”
Mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency can reduce cognitive ability, hearing and motor skills, according to Dr Healy, and it is particularly important for pregnant women (and their developing babies) and children under three years old to receive enough iodine to ensure normal brain development.
“We recognise that some people may want to avoid iodised products,” said Dr Healy.
“The availability of some salt-free breakfast cereals, breads and biscuits will provide non-fortified options for those who want them.
“Iodine will be listed in the ingredients list if it is present in the food.”
The draft assessment report is at www.foodstandards.gov.au, submissions are due before close of business Monday, 18 September, 2006.