Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Folic acid now mandatory in bread

Neural tube defects in babies set to fall

There is now another reason for Australian's to enjoy the goodness of bread! To reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in up to 50 babies a year, as of the 13th September 2009, folic acid fortification of wheat flour for bread making is now mandatory in Australia.

Folate, occurring naturally in green leafy vegetables, is a B-group vitamin essential for growth and development of cells and a healthy nervous system. Especially important during times of rapid growth, it is recommended women planning to or who may become pregnant should consume an additional 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the newborn baby such as Spina Bifida.

Public health education initiatives have failed to help women of child-bearing age reach folic acid targets. So, now Australian flour millers are required to add between 2-3mg/kg of folic acid per kilogram of flour, which equates to around 120 micrograms of folic acid per 100g of bread (2-3 slices), which can help provide the additional protection against neural tube defects. To reach higher targets associated with pregnancy, women are still encouraged to consume a daily folic acid supplement at least 1 month before and 3 months after conception, as well as 'eating their daily bread'.

Folic acid fortification of wheat flour for bread making will include all plain, fancy and sweet breads and rolls, bagels, foccacia, English muffins, flat breads (containing yeast) and flour mixes for home bread-making. Other products that might be made with bread-making flour include crumpets, scones, pancakes, pikelets, crepes, yeast donuts, pizza bases and crumbed products. Packaged flour sold for domestic use, organic bread, or bread made from grains other than wheat are not required to contain folic acid, however, manufacturers may add folic acid if they wish.

Mandatory folic acid fortification has been used safely in the United States and Canada for over 10 years and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) will be monitoring the effectiveness of the increased levels of folic acid in the food supply.

Keep an eye out for another great reason to eat bread in October, when the use of iodised salt for bread-making will become mandatory.

Already one of the leading sources of fibre in the diets of Australians, low in fat, a source of protein, thiamin, niacin and now folic acid, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the goodness of bread!


Research proves wholegrain benefits

Cereals & snacks provide antioxidant boost!

Dietitians often recommend green tea, red wine, nuts and fruits (especially berries) for their antioxidant boost! New research has discovered that many wholegrain breakfast cereals, and wholegrain snacks like popcorn and wholegrain crispbreads, have surprisingly large amounts of polyphenols, regarded as great antioxidants.

Researchers investigated the total polyphenol content of around 40 breakfast cereals and 20 snacks and found that wholegrain products have comparable antioxidants per gram to fruits and vegetables. The study revealed higher antioxidant levels than previous studies because the researchers analysed total polyphenol content rather than focusing on free antioxidants, which are not bound to sugar.

Ready to eat, cold breakfast cereals made with oats were found to have the highest antioxidants, followed by corn and wheat. Popcorn was at the top of the snack list, blitzing the competition with as much as five times as many antioxidants as the nearest rival.

Packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre along with polyphenols, scientific studies have found that regular consumption of wholegrain foods can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and even help you to manage your weight. So jump on the wholegrain train!


  • Try air popping your own corn kernels and use herbs to replace salt. Garlic powder, chilli powder, basil and oregano work well.
  • Did you know plain popcorn, without added butter or sugar, contains around 4 times less saturated fat and 5 times more fibre than you average potato crisps? So choose low fat or homemade popcorn next time you feel like a snack.
  • Popcorn is a wholegrain! One 20g serve of plain popcorn contains around 15g of wholegrains - that's 30% of your daily target intake for wholegrains! (as recommended by Go Grains Health & Nutrition).