Iodine, an essential nutrient, will be added to bread from 9 October 2009, in Australia. The addition of iodised salt helps tackle the Iodine deficiency across most of the population. Dr Paul Brent, chief scientist of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), stated that this initiative will address this important public health issue.
He said: “Iodine is essential for the healthy function of the thyroid gland to help it produce hormones that regulate metabolism, including the regulation of body temperature. Most people need only a small amount a day but we need Iodine regularly because we cannot store large amounts in the body.”
He advised: “the mandatory Iodine fortification regulation requires the replacement of the existing salt in bread with iodised salt, which is preferable to people adding extra iodised salt to their food. The only exception is organic bread which is not required to contain iodine because of the rules about organic food.”
Dr Brent concluded: “In developing mandatory iodine fortification, FSANZ set up an Iodine Scientific Advisory Group which included experts in a variety of fields. Mandatory iodine fortification is expected to reduce inadequate iodine intakes from 43% to less than 5% in the Australian population. The increase in iodine intake is about the same as the iodine content of a large glass of milk and safe even for iodine sensitive individuals.”
The iodine mandatory fortification standard was developed by FSANZ at the request of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council that consists of health and food ministers from the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments and the New Zealand government.
The fortification of bread with the B group vitamin folic acid to reduce the risk of spina bifida became mandatory in Australia on 13 September 2009. Mandatory fortification of bread with iodised salt came into force in New Zealand on 27 September 2009