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EFSA health claim opinion

EFSA approves margarine cholesterol claim

By Shane Starling , 26-May-2011

The European Food safety Authority (EFSA) has approved a health claim linking consumption of a low-fat and omega-3 fortified margarine with cholesterol lowering benefits.

French group Lactalis B&C submitted the article 14 disease risk reduction health claim that EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) agreed could assist in lowering LDL cholesterol due to the replacement of saturated fats in the product.

“The food constituents which are responsible for the claimed effect are unsaturated fatty acids (mixtures of cis-MUFA and/or cis-PUFA), which should replace saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and trans fatty acids (TFAs) in the diet in order to obtain the claimed effect,” the NDA said.

“The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of mixtures of dietary SFAs and an increase in blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations, and that replacement of a mixture of SFAs with cis-MUFAs and/or cis-PUFAs in foods or diets on a gram per gram basis reduces LDL cholesterol concentrations.”

It proposed the wording: “Consumption of saturated fat increases blood cholesterol concentrations; consumption of mono and/or polyunsaturated fat in replacement of saturated fat has been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. Blood cholesterol lowering may reduce the risk of (coronary) heart disease.”

Lactalis’s submitted claim read: “Replacing a fat rich in saturated/trans fatty acids by a fat rich in unsaturated fatty acids helps to reduce LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is a cardiovascular risk factor”.

Conditions of use included that , “significant amounts of mixed SFAs should be replaced by cis-MUFAs and/or cis-PUFAs in foods or diets on a gram per gram basis” among a target population of, “subjects who want to lower their blood cholesterol.”

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in European populations with over 1.9 million deaths in the European Union and over 4.35 million deaths in Europe each year. Elevated blood cholesterol is an important modifiable risk factor in the development of CHD, acxcording to the World Health Organization (WHO).