The newly formed food safety agency Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) continues to tackle the Food Standards Code with the invitation this week for public comment on a number of possible changes.
First up - the draft assessment for 'Intense sweeteners in jelly (P273)'. The Food Standards Code does not currently permit the use of cyclamates and saccharin as sweeteners in jelly. Although other intense sweeteners are permitted in the Code, almost all low joule jellies produced in Australia and New Zealand use only cyclamates and saccharin. Consumers of these products include people with dietary sugar restrictions, such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. The FSANZ is proposing to add these permissions to the Code and calling for comments from jelly producers and consumers of low joule jelly.
On the subject of using the enzyme hexose oxidase - and confirming that it poses no threat to human health - FSANZ is proposing to add it to the Code's list of approved processing aids. The enzyme can be used in bread making and in the manufacture of cheese and tofu where it can perform a range of functions.
A new intense sweetener, aspartame-acesulphame salt, when dissolved, breaks down into two food additives that are already permitted for use by the Code. Further to a pre-market risk assessment of the product, FSANZ is now calling for comments on the potential costs and benefits to consumers, industry or government arising from an approval of this intense sweetener as a food additive.
In 2001, permission was given for food manufacturers to use the increasingly popular healthy phytosterol esters derived from vegetable oils as a novel food ingredient in edible oil spreads and margarines. Scientists have for some time backed the claim that phytosterol esters could reduce plasma cholesterol levels in people.
Although permission was not initially given for the use of phytosterol esters in a broader range of foods because of lack of information relating to their safety and efficacy, FSANZ reports that additional data is now available. FSANZ commented that applicants are currently seeking to extend the approval to a fibre-increased bread and breakfast cereal bars (A433) and to low-fat milk and low-fat yoghurt (A434).
Turning to wholegrains, according to the food agency one industry applicant 'considers that the definition of 'wholegrain' in the Code is too limiting for food manufacturers and potentially misleading for consumers.' As such, FSANZ is calling for a public comment on the need for a new definition of 'wholegrain', on the public understanding of the definition and on any health or cost implications to amending the definition in the Code.
FSANZ is also calling for comments - to be received by 30 April 2003 - on the microbiological limit for Bacillus cereus use in infant formula, the use of acidified sodium chlorite as a processing aid to the number of micro-organisms, and finally, the use of the enzyme lysophospholipase to improve filtration rates during the production of caloric sweeteners from hydrolysed wheat starch.