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Plant sterols and formulated beverages have now been approved

24 November, 2006

Two new food standards are now law. The first standard will allow Australians and New Zealanders to have access to a range of foods enriched with plant sterols. The second standard will allow manufacturers to make formulated beverages in Australia, not just New Zealand.

Christopher Pyne, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minster for Health and Ageing, said that the new standards were excellent examples of allowing the food industry to be innovative while also protecting public health and safety.

‘Plant sterols can reduce cholesterol uptake when eaten in sufficient amounts. Until now, plant sterols have only been allowed for use in margarines. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has carried out an extensive safety assessment and, from today, plant sterols are also allowed to be added to low fat milks, low fat yoghurts and breakfast cereals. These type of products are already permitted for use in Europe and North America,’ Pyne said.

‘FSANZ’s consumer research found that most consumers of plant sterol products are health conscious adults who choose foods with a health benefit in mind and as part of a healthy lifestyle. Plant sterol products must carry advisory statements that they should be consumed as part of a healthy diet and that they are not suitable for children under 5 years or pregnant or lactating women. Plant sterols  do not provide additional benefits when more than 3 grams a day are consumed.

‘FSANZ is working with the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Dietitians Association of Australia to provide information about plant sterol foods to doctors, health professionals and consumers. A fact sheet is available on the FSANZ website.

‘I am also pleased to announce that water-based beverages with added vitamins and minerals (formulated beverages) can now be legally manufactured in Australia. These products have been on the shelves in Australia for many years as they have been manufactured in New Zealand as dietary supplements and legally imported to Australia. Now they can be made in Australia. These products will have a maximum limit of 24% fruit ingredients and 7.5% sugar,’ Pyne concluded.