Delays hit debate on folic acid and bread weights
26 May, 2006
The Federation of Bakers expects delays in resolving two legislative issues facing the
sector – folic acid fortification and bread weights regulation. Director Gordon Polson told British Baker he anticipates a two-month delay before a public consultation into the possible fortification of flour with folic acid starts in the UK.This had been due to start in May, but has been postponed to give the Food StandardsAgency’s (FSA) Advisory Committee on Nutrition time to review scientific evidence on potential risks and benefits of increased folic acid intake.Its review will be used by the FSA to inform its recommendations to health ministers on measures to prevent folate and neural tube defect prevention, including the possible fortification of flour.Meanwhile, the EU Nominal Quantities Directive, which covers deregulation of bread weights legislation, is yet to be finalised. Currently, bread above 300g in weight has to be sold in set weights – 400g, 800g and 1,200g. The European Parliament voted in February this year to exclude “pre-packed bread, spreadable fats or tea” from the scope of the directive. For these products, national rules on nominal quantities would continue to apply, it said.However, in April the European Council disagreed and said it was still in favour of deregulation. Gordon Polson said: “It is still a watching brief. We have no clear idea of timescales. This will not be resolved under the six-month Austrian presidency of the EU, which is coming to an end. Finland is next to take the presidency in July, but there is no suggestion that it will make a priority of the issue.”Separately, the European Parliament last week backed an agreement that will lay down conditions for the use of nutrition claims such as ‘low fat’, ‘high fibre’ or ‘reduced sugar’.This sets thresholds for the claims to apply. For example, ‘high fibre’ products must have 6g or more of fibre per 100g. Non-packaged products, including unwrapped breads, are exempted.