Views wanted on phytosterol esters

Last updated:
18 February 2014
margarine spread
A company has applied to the FSA to extend the use of phytosterol esters as a novel food ingredient, and views are wanted on the draft opinion of the FSA's independent advisory committee. Phytosterol esters are used by the food industry for their cholesterol-lowering properties. Free phytosterols are naturally present at low levels in vegetable oils and in food derived from such oils.

The deadline for sending comments is Friday 28 February 2014.

About the application

This is the third application made by the company, Unilever, for this novel food ingredient in the European Union. Two of these applications, including this one, were made in the UK.

Following an application for margarines with added phytosterol esters, which was approved in 2000, Unilever submitted an application via the UK to extend use to 'milk type' and 'yoghurt type' products. This use was authorised in 2004.

This third application is to extend the use in margarines to include cooking and baking which were not covered in the original authorisation. The applicant is also seeking to extend the use to liquid vegetable fat-based emulsions (liquid margarine products) which are used for cooking and baking.

About novel foods

A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.

Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), an independent committee of scientists appointed by the FSA.

Deadline for comments

The Food Standards Agency is inviting comments on the ACNFP’s draft opinion. Any comments should be emailed to the ACNFP secretariat at by Friday 28 February 2014.