Plant sterols are used by the food industry for their cholesterol-lowering properties. They are naturally present at low levels in vegetable oils and in food derived from such sources.
The phytosterol ingredient is supplied by Cargill Ltd. and the authorities in Finland have issued an opinion on its acceptability as a novel ingredient in various other foods. The applicant proposes to add 0.4% of phytosterols to fruit juices, including tomato juice and nectars.
The labelling of Coca-Cola's proposed product will comply with Commission Regulation (EC) 608/2004 on the labelling of food with added plant sterols, and Council Directive 2001/112/EC relating to fruit juices and similar products.
Before any novel food product can be introduced on the European market it must be rigorously assessed for safety in accordance with the Novel Foods Regulation (EC) 258/97. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).
Following an initial public consultation period and the discussion of this application at the November 2004 and January 2005 meetings of the ACNFP, the Agency has issued a positive initial opinion for this novel food application.
This opinion will now be forwarded by the European Commission to other Member States for comment.