Island Life by David Slack


Tune in, turn on, score some Vogels.

The government wants to put acid in our food? Party Central!

But wait, what's this? The Prime Minister gets wind of it on the TV news. He immediately seeks the advice of experts. His Chief Press Secretary. Katherine Rich.

He airily tells us that laws are made to be broken, or at least ignored, if they're inconvenient. Bake your bread as you see fit, Mr and Ms Industry. If you don't feel like putting Folic Acid in your bread, then don't bother.

For all the good it seems likely to do, it's hard to understand why this rule has been devised.

Let's recap.The problem: babies being born with Spina Bifida. The remedy: giving mothers a boost of Folic Acid. But there's a further problem: if you unexpectedly conceive, you're not likely to have been taking Folic Acid. Even if you're trying to do so, it's possible you're not aware that you could take this precaution. And a further complication: you may believe that it is not in the interests of your - or your baby's - health to do so.

So far, so logical: just as we put iodine in salt to protect the nation from goitre, so we shall put Folic Acid in our bread. If you get pregnant, you'll be okay. All good, then, just so long as you eat eleven - count them, eleven slices - of bread each day. As we all do.

The only way this will work is if the nation consumes sufficient bread to compound its obesity problem.

I have an alternative proposal. Put the stuff in Coca Cola. It's consumed in vast quantities. Young people seem to subsist on it. And, of course, it's already doing incalculable harm to our children's health, so there is, to use the policy criteria of our Prime Minister, no downside.

Informed debate; I'm all for it. I offer these forum-suggested links:

Press Release: Coalition of Parents of Children with Spina Bifida

Food Standards Australia

Science Media Centre

Also: Paul Litterick suggests "Put it in RTDs – a major cause of unwanted pregnancies."

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