Recent reports of moderate iodine deficiency among New Zealanders and mild deficiency in some parts of Australia has prompted the Trans-Tasman regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to consider a proposal to replace standard salt with iodized salt in some common household products. Recent studies had shown that Australians, particularly pregnant women, were not getting enough of iodine.
The proposal by FSANZ is aimed at reducing iodine deficiency by adding iodized salt to common food products like biscuits, bread and breakfast cereals. FSANZ has now called for public comment on the mandatory fortification of iodine.
Iodine is essential for production of thyroid hormone, and a mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency can reduce cognitive ability, hearing and motor skills. It is also important for normal mental growth of the fetus and children under three years of age.
FSANZ chief scientist, Dr Marion Healy, said this was an effective way to boost iodine. The mandatory addition of iodine to food could begin in 2008 if Australian Health Ministry accepts the proposal made by FSANZ.