Consumer NZ supports the government's decision that fortifying bread with folic acid will remain voluntary.
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Women of childbearing age need adequate levels of folate – both before and during pregnancy – to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida in babies.
In July 2012 we prepared a submission supporting limited mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid. This would have seen bakers fortify a percentage of their bread, leaving the rest unfortified to allow for consumer choice. While the government hasn't chosen our preferred option, we are pleased fortification will remain voluntary.
If you're planning a pregnancy, relying on diet alone is unlikely to increase your intake to the required levels. The Ministry of Health recommends women take a folic acid supplement for at least four weeks before they conceive and for the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy to reduce the risk of NTDs. Folic acid tablets are available over the counter from pharmacies or at a lower cost with a prescription from your doctor.
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