Industry removes sterol products from shelves
Lindenmayer, Managing Director of Australia New Zealand Food
Consumers should not fear plant sterols in foods, wrote Ian Lindenmayer, Managing Director of Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) in an open letter this week. His statement follows the recent ANZFA approval for vegetable oil-derived plant sterol esters as a novel food ingredient in edible oil spreads (margarines), but not other foods. "I am concerned that some of the media reporting ('Cancer risk prompts ban plea' The Age 1 June 2001) of the decisions about phytosterol esters (plant sterol esters) in foods, may lead to unwarranted fears among consumers."Lindenmayer commented. "The decision to approve the addition of this ingredient to margarines was because there was adequate scientific data to show that it was safe for humans to consume the amounts of phytosterol ester that would normally be consumed through eating margarines. However, at this stage, there is insufficient scientific data to show that consumers could safely eat the quantities of phytosterol esters that could be consumed if this ingredient was placed in a range of other foods as well as in margarines." he continued. This lack of evidence means that as from June 16, 2001 all yoghurt, milk, cereal bars and mayonnaise products containing plant sterols will have to be removed from the marketplace. Only Unilever's Pro.activ and Goodman Fielder's Logicol will be allowed to remain on sale. In anticipation of the new regulations Swiss pharmaceutical firm, Novartis, and supplier of plant sterols, filed an application with ANZFA for regulatory approval for products enriched with Reducol ™, a brand plant sterol from their global marketing partner Forbes Medi-Tech. They await approval.