Food Standards Australia New Zealand has ruled that iodine must be added to all bread by September 2009.
FSANZ is responding to its Australian Total Diet Study, which found that about 43% of Australians have an inadequate iodine intake.
It estimates this will drop to no more than 5% after iodine-fortification of bread.
The ATDS is conducted about every two years to ensure the Australian food supply is safe and nutritious.
“Insufficient iodine intake, particularly in groups such as pregnant women, babies and young children, is of great concern,” Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Senator, Jan McLucas, said.
“Mild to moderate iodine deficiency can result in children having learning difficulties and can affect the development of motor skills and hearing.
“In extreme cases it can result in severe intellectual disability.”
Women aged 19 to 49 need between 100 and 200 micrograms of iodine a day but the study found 70% were not getting enough.
10% of children aged two to three years are also not getting enough iodine.
96 types of food were tested in a ‘table-ready’ state for the trace elements selenium, chromium, molybdenum, nickel and iodine.
The survey found that selenium intake also needed further investigation.
FSANZ chief scientist, Dr Paul Brent, said that the agency had taken a new approach to producing a world-leading total diet study focused exclusively on nutrients.
The 23rd ATDS has begun and will also cover a large range of pesticide residues and veterinary chemicals.