EFSA found sterol-stanol consumption of 1.5-3g per day for 2-3 weeks could lower LDL cholesterol by 11.3 or 11.4% respectively and therefore reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
The two companies submitted individual dossiers to back the expansion of the claim, with Unilever’s folder containing, “an unpublished meta-analysis on 27 randomised controlled human studies”.
Raisio’s submission also referenced an unpublished meta-analysis of 18 randomised controlled studies.
“The positive opinion by EFSA’s panel of experts for an extension to the original [claim] is a very important first step in the authorization procedure by the EU institutions,” said Becel/Flora pro.activ nutritionist Mireille Blommaert.
“When finally authorised, it will mean we can further reassure consumers concerned about their heart health that the plant sterols in Flora/Becel pro.activ are scientifically proven to lower LDL cholesterol by up to 11.3%.”
Before they can be utilised, the new nutrition and health claim regulation (NHCR) article 14 disease risk reduction claims need to be ratified by the European Commission, EU member states and the European Parliament.
However EFSA rebuffed the suggestion of both companies that the approved time to achieve the effects be shortened from 2-3 weeks to 1-2 weeks.
Existing claims are in the range of 1.5-2.4g of plant sterols/stanols being, “clinically proven to lower LDL cholesterol by 7-10%.”
The claims are relevant for margarine-type spreads, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and dairy products such as milk, yoghurts including low-fat yoghurts, and cheese.
Raisio applied to have the claim extended to, “fat spreads, dairy products, cheese, rye bread, oatmeal, fermented soy milk based products (drinkable and spoonable yoghurt-type products), and oat based milk drinks.”
The opinions can be found here.