Folate Health Claims Pilot The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) has been directed to treat as a matter of urgency a proposal to pilot a health claim on food labels linking the consumption of the vitamin folate with a reduction in neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in babies. ANZFA will be consulting with key organisations in New Zealand. The pilot would involve working closely with consumer groups and the food industry. ANZFA will be developing a recommendation by May to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council, of which the NZ Associate Minister of Health is a member. A full inquiry will take place after 1 July 1998 and this will provide opportunity for public submissions. The pilot study would enable an investigation of whether food labels with a positive health claim about folate lead to increased consumer awareness about the benefits of folate. It would also permit examination of whether consumers change their buying patterns as a result of the folate health claim on labels. The proposed pilot will be evaluated after 6 months and will not increase the range of permissions to add vitamins to food. Currently under the Food Standards Code, food producers are not allowed to make a health claim on product labels or in associated advertising material. A review of this policy is currently being undertaken by ANZFA. The folate pilot will inform this review. URGENT Expressions of Interest are sought from members of the food industry who may wish to participate in this pilot. Expressions of interest should be made by close of business, Wednesday, 29 April 1998, and sent to: Dr Hugh Baber Australia New Zealand Food Authority P.O. Box 10-559 The Terrace WELLINGTON 6036 or faxed to (04) 473 9855. Further information on the pilot as well as an information package for industry can be obtained by calling ANZFA on (04) 473 9942.