There are mixed feelings among Tauranga bakers about the Government’s proposal to make folic acid in bread compulsory.
The public has until Monday, July 16 to enter submissions on the Government proposal, which if it goes ahead will to see additional folic acid in most breads in a bid to reduce the number of new-borns with growth conditions such as spina bifida.
Nick Parkers says it is “terrifying” what goes into bread these days and says adding folic acid is “completely unnecessary”.
The Government already shelved a proposal to make fortification mandatory in 2008 after a public outcry from the Bakers Association and the Food and Grocery Council saying the science was a "mass medication experiment".
Now, the Government is again considering a plan to force bakers to fortify their bread products with folic acid after calls from doctors and parents of children with spina bifida.
Owner of Flaveur Breads in Mount Maunganui Nick Parker, says he is “strongly” against the proposal.
“It’s completely unnecessary; it is absolutely frightening what goes into bread.”
Nick says if bread is made correctly it has “ample” folic acid in it.
“The reason there is no or very little folic acid in commercial breads is that it’s made with huge amounts of commercial yeast which speeds the process up but doesn’t allow the nutrients to develop through natural bacterial processes which you get from sour dough.
“Bread has been made for thousands of years using sourdough techniques and taking 8 hours minimum nowadays they do two batches in 8 hours and the breads nutritionally void.
“Our best bread has flour, water and salt. Why would you need to do anything different other than for commercial reasoning?”
Blomquist Bakery in Greerton owner Sue Blomquist is neither for nor against the idea and says customers should have a choice.
“I do think that mothers to be need to have their zinc; the option has to be there for sure.
“I was under the understanding that the artisan bread we make doesn’t need to be, because there’s no way we’d put it in our artisan loaves.
Sue says for their fast doughs adding folic acid would simply mean adding it to the mixture but for more traditional bread such as ciabatta and sour dough, it would require physically adding the acid.
She says it wouldn’t alter the taste or texture of the bread but there would definitely be a rise in cost.
“There will definitely be a cost for our suppliers. I’m sure they would have to pass on their cost and we’d have to do the same.”
The Ministry for Primary Industries released a discussion paper setting out four options which range from mandatory fortification of most breads from September 30, 2012, through to voluntary fortification and invites the public to have their say before it is too late.