The Australian and New Zealand markets could soon see cholesterol-lowering milks on sale, as the region's food agency considers comments on a request from Parmalat Australia.
The firm has applied to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for approval for the use of tall oil phytosterols (TOPs) as a novel food ingredient in low-fat and no-fat liquid milk products.
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, although such products must be labelled as 'not suitable for children or pregnant or lactating women' and 'that people on cholesterol-reducing drugs should consult a medical adviser before use'.
With continued attention on high cholesterol and obesity problems, and the recent launch of Swiss firm Emmi's cholesterol-lowering milk drink in Europe, containing Raisio's Benecol, the marketplace seems to show no signs of saturation of cholesterol-lowering foods.
FSANZ is also seeking comments on an application from Matsutani Chemical Industry Co to recognise resistant maltodextrin (RMD) as a dietary fibre and to include a specific method of analysis for dietary fibre in foods containing RMD.
Dietary fibre is often taken to mean the insoluble and indigestible parts of plants, but there is growing evidence that other substances that are soluble or can be partially digested produce the same physiological effects seen with more traditionally accepted forms of dietary fibre.
Comments should be received by FSANZ by 24 September 2003.