Regulations Review Committee rejects NZORD complaint

Food safety Minister Kate Wilkinson has won a challenge against her decision last year to block the mandatory fortification of bread with Folic Acid. She has been let off the hook by the slimmest of margins. NZORD took a complaint to the Regulations Review committee of the New Zealand Parliament, claiming she had acted outside the authority given to her under the Food Act, that the consultation she undertook was inadequate, and the outcome pre-determined. "We took this action to help save lives and reduce serious disabilities", says NZORD executive director John Forman, "but it is clear these matters were of little concern to Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson or her party colleagues on the committee".
Although three committee members questioned the quality of the consultation, the majority decided it was in line with the Food Act

Saskatchewan programme to monitor birth defect trends

Dr. Ed Lemire, a medical geneticist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon will spearhead a programme to track birth defects across the province in an attempt to work out what could be causing them. The Public Health Agency of Canada has provided a three-year funding grant to support the initiative that he conceived of seven years ago. At the moment there is no accurate estimate of the congenital anomalies, or birth defects, in the provence of Saskatchewan in Canada. Similar programmes already exist in British Columbia and Alberta, and the health agency is now urging all provinces and territories to introduce similar tracking systems as a means to lower birth defects, a leading cause of infant mortality. Read more here.
Monitoring birth defect trends can for instance scientifically determine the effects of Folic Acid fortification and/or supplementation

Free iPhone application to help prevent Spina Bifida

In the United States VitaPath Genetics, the Spina Bifida Association and the National Council on Folic Acid recently announced the launch of the free iPhone application — the VitaTrack Folate Tracker — which allows women to track their daily intake of folate and folic acid. Maintaining an adequate level of folic acid prior to and during the first weeks of pregnancy can reduce the risk of serious birth defects like Spina Bifida by up to 70%. Studies have shown that the average consumption of folate among women of child-bearing age is well below the recommended level. Designed specifically for the iPhone, the VitaTrack Folate Tracker application will help women ensure that they are consuming the recommended amount of daily folic acid before becoming pregnant.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women take 400 mcg per day of folic acid in addition to folate from regular diet at least one month before getting pregnant

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