Alf either must emigrate, drop bread from his diet or get The Missus to bake the household bread from now on. Or he could bite the bullet, so to speak, do the Green thing and put organic bread on his diet.
He is chewing over his options on being advised the Government is pushing ahead with the mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid, despite harbouring health concerns over the practice.
Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson said yesterday that from September bakers will be required by law to add folic acid to bread under the new New Zealand-Australia food standard.
The standard was signed by former Labour food safety minister Annette King in 2007. She described it at the time as “a triumph for humanity and common sense”.
The addition of folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in babies. All bread except organic and unleavened bread must contain between 80 and 180 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams.
So what drove King to this?
She says evidence suggests it will reduce the incidence of spina bifida and hydrocephalus in this country in new born babies by between 4 and 14 a year.
So the whole bloody country (more or less) is to be force-fed this folic acid stuff to save maybe just four baby deaths a year.
And at what price?
Some research in Britain and Ireland links use of folic acid as a dietary supplement to a growing incidence of several types of cancer.
Alf can tell you that Wilkinson is “not a fan” of the folic acid requirement and shares concerns about the potential health risks of adding folate to bread.
Moreover, she acknowledges the compulsory thing goes against National’s philosophy of personal choice.
Trouble is, the Government is obliged to go ahead because it is a joint operation with Australia approved by the previous government.
“Annette King led the charge to have mandatory fortification throughout New Zealand and Australia and ignored widespread public opposition, as well as advice from industry,” Wilkinson said.
“New Zealand is part of a joint-standard system with Australia which is enshrined in both treaty and legislation, and we take these responsibilities seriously.”
So what about the bakers who will play a key part in folicking us?
Bakers’ Association president Laurie Powell said bakers would begin preparations to implement the standard, but they believed it amounted to “mass medicating” New Zealanders in return for saving a small number of babies born each year with a neural tube defect.
“The minister’s plan is bad science and defies logic. The minister recently confirmed that the pregnant women she is targeting will need to eat 11 slices of bread a day to get their recommended dose of folic acid,” he said.
“Women statistically aren’t big bread eaters.
“Targeting the small number of women at risk with folic acid supplements is a much more effective strategy than blasting the entire New Zealand population.”
Alf is especially outraged that bakers proposed they voluntarily fortify a range of breads and supplement the move with an advertising campaign.
Alas, this was rejected.
So who favours force-feeding us with stuff Alf wants to avoid?
The New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders said the Government should “stand by sound science and public health interests” and implement the standard.
The organisation said the bakers’ arguments were selfish and lacked moral or economic justification.
It said between 80 and 130 babies died or were seriously disabled by neural tube defects each year.
“Most of these deaths or serious disabilities would be preventable by simply adding a trace of vitamin to replace what is stripped out of the wheat in the milling process,” it said.
But why not tell all pregnant mothers of the benefits of folic acid?
And have the mothers make the decision to add the stuff to their diets?
Personally, Alf harbours the strong suspicion the bloody Aussies have conned us into dosing ourselves with a substance that, if it does not cause cancer, may well spawn a generation of enfeebled All Blacks.
The buggers are out to nobble us, to put it bluntly, and silly Annette King was suckered to aid and abet them.
This verges on treason. She should be dealt with accordingly.