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Kraft urges FSANZ to remove plant sterol-enriched cheese packaging restrictions

By Mark Astley , 27-Jun-2012

Kraft Foods has urged Australasian authorities to remove restrictions on the package size of low-fat cheese enriched with phytosterol esters – less than two years after calling for their implementation.

The firm has appealed to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to do away with packaging-size limits relating to low-fat cheese products (less than 12g fat per 100g cheese) containing phytosterol esters.

Phytosterol esters are made from phytosterols, which is a plant compound, and fatty acids also derived from plants.

It has been shown to reduce cholesterol when ingested. Concerns have, however, been raised about the safety of plant sterol supplementation, which has previously prevented the sale of products containing plant sterols.

If approved, the company’s application to FSANZ - A1070 Packaging Size for Phytosterol-enriched Lower Fat Cheese - will see the removal of the “current restrictions on package sizes of low-fat cheese enriched with phytosterol esters.”

Remove restrictions

“Application A1070 is in the early stages of being assessed. Public consultation is likely to occur around September,” FSANZ told DairyReporter.com.

Permission to market low-fat milks, low-fat yoghurts and breakfast cereals containing plant sterols was granted by FSANZ in November 2006.

In November 2008, Kraft Foods Australia lodged an application with FSANZ, urging an amendment to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to permit the use of tall oil phytosterol esters as a novel food ingredient in cheese, processed cheese and its lower-fat cheese brand, LiveActive.

“Kraft suggested package size restrictions as part of their original application (A1019) which approved use of phytosterols in low fat cheese,” said FSANZ.

“Kraft advised that the phytosterol enriched cheese would be sold in portion-control easy-to-use packages. Their reason was to assist consumers’ awareness of how much phytosterol is contained in each serve and to enable them to easily determine the number of serves they consume on a daily basis.” 

Kraft has now called upon FSANZ to remove these restrictions.

Identical application

In July 2011, FSANZ received an almost identical application, requesting the removal of “the current restriction on package size for milk enriched with phytosterols.”

Application A1065 was lodged by National Foods, which produces one litre plant sterol enriched milk products, Pura and Dairy Farmers HeartActive.

If all goes well, Application A1065, which is currently awaiting FSANZ board approval, could be completed by mid-October 2012 – potentially paving the way for the approval of Kraft’s request.  

Kraft’s application is currently in the process of being assessed, with a decision expected around September 2012.

The application will then be made available for public comment, then go before the FSANZ board. If approved by the board, the decision is passed to food regulation ministers, who have 60 days to review the board decision.

If no review is requested by the board, the application would be gazetted and become part of food law by May 2013.

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