AMA Vice President, Dr Choong-Siew Yong, today said the AMA is yet again calling for immediate mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recommended in October last year that mandatory fortification be introduced in Australia, but implementation has been delayed until after the next meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, in May.
"The AMA has been calling for mandatory folate fortification for three years now," Dr Yong said.
"It's extremely disappointing that this important yet simple measure continues to be delayed.
"What will amount to a six-month delay means up to 25 more Australian families will experience a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect. This is not acceptable."
Last night, Dr Fiona Stanley told other child health experts in Sydney that negative and irresponsible campaigning by the Australian food industry had led to unnecessary delays in mandatory folate fortification.
Dr Yong said more than 50 nations, including Canada and the United States, already have introduced mandatory requirements for folate fortification of flour - an effective and inexpensive way to ensure women of child-bearing age consume enough folic acid.
"This measure should have been taken when the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council last met in October," he said.
"The benefits of fortification are obvious, and the cost to industry and consumers will be minimal."