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Coke asks regulators in Australia, New Zealand to approve use of phytosterols


ATLANTA Coca-Cola South Pacific recently applied to Food Standards Australia New Zealand to add phytosterols at a level of 4.5 per liter to all fruit juice drinks with at least 20% juice. The application applied to both Australia and New Zealand, and Coke said it wants these drinks to target the over-40-year-old population, since data has shown phytosterol can lower cholesterol levels.

Scientific studies were included in the application, though FSANZ will be looking into a wider range of material. The European Food Safety Authority recently supported a submission for a plant sterol-based health claim from Unilever, saying, “Plant sterols have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. Blood cholesterol lowering may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” FSANZ stated one of its concerns that consumers may exceed the Acceptable Daily Intake, created by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, by consuming multiple products that contain phytosterol esters.

Currently, phytosterol esters from vegetable oils and non-esterified phyotsterols—derived from a tall-oil source—are permitted in oils spreads and margarines in Australia. And since November 2006, phytosterol esters have been permitted in breakfast cereals, low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt. Non-esterified phtosterols from vegetable oil have not yet been accepted.

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