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Originally published October 27 2006

FDA denies ban on Vegemite imports

by Jessica Fraser

(NaturalNews) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that recent media reports that the agency had banned imports of Vegemite -- a yeast spread popular in Australia -- are false.

"There is no ban on Vegemite," said FDA spokesman Mike Herndon, who said he was surprised by the media reports on a possible ban.

Over the weekend, media outlets began reporting that border officials were confiscating Vegemite from travelers entering the country, based on the folate content of the spread. Under FDA regulations, folate (folic acid) can only be added to cereals and breads, but Herndon says the agency does not plan to target Vegemite.

"One of the vitamin B components (in Vegemite) is folate," said Herndon. "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."

A representative of Kraft Foods -- which makes Vegemite -- reportedly told the media that the FDA did not allow imports of the spread because of its folic acid content.

However, Herndon said, "Nobody at the FDA has told [Kraft] there is a ban."

A spokesperson for the Australian embassy in Washington, D.C. said, "We are aware of reports that U.S. authorities have been seeking to stop people from bringing Vegemite into the country. From our perspective there is no food safety issue with Vegemite and we have been advised recently by U.S. authorities that Vegemite was not of concern to them."

Vegemite is a salty, paste-like spread made from yeast extract, and is considered a national food in Australia. Roughly 100,000 Australian expatriates in the United States are still able to purchase their national food from American stores, though few Americans enjoy the product.

Many news outlets are now classifying the weekend reports of a Vegemite ban as a hoax or an urban legend that began with an overenthusiastic border official possibly confiscating a jar of the spread.


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