The food safety agency of Australia and New Zealand has opened the way for public comment on a number of possible changes to its recently implemented Food Standards Code.
In a statement this week the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) cited a number of possible changes to the code including tall oil phytosterols in low-fat milk and resistant maltodextrin (RMD) as a dietary fibre.
Proposing to expand the use of tall oil phytosterols (TOPs) in the food supply, Parmalat Australia has applied to the agency, looking for approval to use (TOPs) as a novel food ingredient in low-fat and no-fat liquid milk products, claiming that TOPs have cholesterol lowering properties.
Foods which have no history of human safe use are known as novel foods and must undergo a safety assessment by FSANZ before being permitted into the food supply. The use of TOPs and phytosterol esters derived from vegetable oils as novel food ingredients has already been approved by FSANZ for use in edible oil spreads and margarines.
Matsutani Chemical Industry applied to FSANZ to recognise resistant maltodextrin (RMD) as a dietary fibre and to include a specific method of analysis for dietary fibre in foods containing RMD.
Currently, there is no universal agreement on a definition for dietary fibre, and often this term refers only to the insoluble and indigestible parts of plants, or 'roughage'. As the food safety body points out, recently other substances that are soluble or can be partially digested have been shown to produce the physiological effects that are associated with traditionally accepted forms of dietary fibre.
Any comments for the FSANZ should be made by 24 September 2003 .