Signs that the functional food market is gaining ground were revealed this week when the UK Food Standards Agency announced it is considering a 'novel food' application by a food manufacturer to market 'milk and yoghurt type' products with an ingredient that lowers cholesterol.
The ingredient has already been cleared for use in Flora Pro-Active spreads and the application comes from the same manufacturer, Unilever.
The 'milk type' products under consideration include skimmed, semi-skimmed and vegetable-based milk variants. The 'yoghurt type' products include a range of natural and fruit-flavoured yoghurts. Both would include phytosterol-esters.
The cholesterol-lowering effect of phytoesterols has already been demonstrated and is similar to that seen in 'Yellow Fat Spreads' containing this ingredient.
Under the FSA's 'openness policy' the novel food application dossier is made available for public comment. These comments will then be considered by the independent voluntary expert Advisory Committee for Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) at its next meeting on 12 September 2002.
Companies wishing to sell a novel food in the European Union are required under the European Commission Novel Foods Regulations to submit an application in the member state where they wish to market the food - the food is then assessed for safety.