Iodine… Yep, that’s right. People have their knickers in a twist about folic acid additions to our bread. Yet, iodine has been added to your kiwi loaf of bread and you didn’t even hear about it.

While industry and public opinion mean bakers don’t have to add folic acid to bread for another few years, they have started adding iodine without any fuss.

Only organic and unleavened bread are excluded from using iodised salt.

Iodised salt is a widely used public health measure to help overcome a deficiency that can lead to brain damage.

Experts have found the culinary trend of using natural sea salt and lower overall salt consumption has led to lower iodine intake.

Authorities say iodine deficiency is a global health concern and a re-emerging problem in New Zealand.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says iodine deficiency is the world’s greatest single cause of preventable brain damage and mental impairment. It also causes thyroid diseases, including once-common goitre, a large swelling on the neck from an enlarged thyroid gland. The WHO says in 54 countries the intake of iodine is still too low.

The NZ Food Safety Authority, which will monitor and enforce the new food standard, says replacing non-iodised salt with iodised salt in bread is a simple, low-cost way of boosting the iodine levels in the national diet.

“It requires minimum effort and cost to bread manufacturers who already add salt,” says assistant director of production and processing Judy Barker. New Zealand’s food sources lack sufficient iodine because it leaches easily from the soil in the wet climate. The authority says it is difficult for most consumers to obtain adequate iodine from their normal diet without fortification.

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