Vegemite Banned – Or Not ?

A follow-up to a news item posted the other day about the American Government banning the import of the Aussie’s favourite spread – Vegemite.

Snopes the website that checks all the news to see if a story is actually true or not, investigated this one and found that this one is false…no.. true… no it’s…. After reading the report I’m still confused:

Vegemite Ban

Claim: The U.S. has banned all imports of Vegemite due to the presence of folate.

Status: False.

Origins: News in late October 2006 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had ordered customs officials to crack down on the importation of Vegemite into the U.S. caused great consternation among American expatriates from Australia and New Zealand and others who enjoy the Kraft-manufactured “savoury spread” made from yeast products.

The ban was supposedly being enforced due to the presence of folate, an FDA-regulated food additive, in the product. Later reports, however, indicated the original news overstated the case:

The US government has dismissed media reports it had banned Vegemite.

“There is no ban on Vegemite,” US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesman Mike Herndon said.

Media reports claimed American border officials were confiscating Vegemite from Australians as they entered the US.

The FDA, charged with policing America’s food supply, has not issued an “import alert” to border officials to halt the import of Vegemite.

But.. and here is where it gets confusing…

..“Mr Herndon said the FDA was surprised by the media reports.

The controversy centres on folate, an ingredient in Vegemite.

Under US regulations, folate can be added only to breads and cereals.

“One of the Vitamin B components (in Vegemite) is folate,” Mr. Herndon said.

“In and of itself, it’s not a violation. If they’re adding folate to it, boosting it up, technically it would be a violation.

“But the FDA has not targeted it and I don’t think we intend to target Vegemite simply because of that.”

Joanna Scott, spokesperson for Vegemite’s maker, Kraft, reportedly has said, “The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t allow the import of Vegemite simply because the recipe does have the addition of folic acid”.

But Mr. Herndon said, “Nobody at the FDA has told them (Kraft) there is a ban”.

Clear as mud.


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