EC changes cholesterol-lowering food label requirements

  • August 21, 2013
  • Sophie Langley

The European Commission (EC) has updated its regulations for foods designed to help consumers lower cholesterol, introducing mandatory labelling that make it clear that these kinds of foods are not intended for people who do not need to lower their cholesterol.

The new mandatory regulation requires the labelling of foods and food ingredients with added phytosterols, phytosterol esters, phytostanols and/or phytostanol esters must include, amongst others, a statement that the product is ‘not intended for people who do not need to control their blood cholesterol level’.

Previously, the mandatory regulation required that a statement be included to say that the food or food ingredient was intended ‘exclusively for the use of people who want to lower their blood cholesterol level’.

“The purpose of the mandatory statement is to ensure that the product reaches its target group, and thus avoid unnecessary consumption by non-targeted groups,” the EC said in a statement.

The voluntary inclusion of nutrition or health claims on food labels in the European Union is governed by regulations laid down in 2006. Food manufacturers are authorised, under certain conditions of use, to make the following health claims:

  • ‘Plant sterols have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease’ and ‘Plant stanol esters have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease’.
  • ‘Plan sterols and plant stanol esters have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease’.
  • ‘Plant sterols/stanols contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels’.

The EC said the wording of these authorised health claims in combination with the previous mandatory statement relating to the target group “could potentially lead consumers who do not need to control their blood cholesterol level to use the product”. It said that the amended mandatory statement will ensure that its wording “serves adequately the informative purpose for which it was initially introduced”.

The EC said food and food ingredients with added phytosterols, phystorol esters, phytostanols and/or phytostanol esters placed on the market or labelled prior to 15 February 2014 that do not comply with the requirements of the new mandatory regulation until the stocks of the foods are exhausted.

Implications for Australian products

The EC’s decision to change the wording of its mandatory regulations for products with addeded phytosterols, phystorol esters, phytostanols and/or phytostanol esters may have implications for similar food products and ingredients in Australia. These products include Logicol spreads, Flora Pro-Active spreads, Pura Heart Active milk, and Devondale Reduce One milk.

EU changes labelling requirements for cholesterol-lowering foods


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