Food Law News - UK - 2006

FSA News Item, 15 August 2006

NOVEL FOODS - Comments needed on phytosterol application

A Spanish company has asked the Agency's expert advisers on novel foods to consider its application for a phytosterol ingredient under the simplified approval procedure.

The company, Lipofoods, has asked for an opinion on the ‘equivalence' of a phytosterol ingredient to be used in various foods. The European Commission Novel Foods Regulation includes a simplified procedure for when a company feels its novel food is substantially equivalent to a food that is already on the market. In such a situation, the applicant can submit a notification to the European Commission after obtaining an opinion on equivalence from an EU Member State.

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

The Spanish company Lipofoods are requesting an opinion from the Agency on the equivalence of their phytosterol ingredient, which is derived from soya. The basis of this request is that its product is equivalent to the phytosterol ingredient marketed by ADM and authorised in 2004.

Lipofoods intends to use its phytosterol ingredient in yellow fat spreads, salad dressings, milk type products, fermented milk type products, such as yogurt, and cheese type products.


Phytosterols are used by the food industry for their cholesterol-lowering properties. They are naturally present at low levels in vegetable oils and in food derived from such sources.

Before any 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 an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

Deadline for comments

Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by 4 September 2006 and will be passed to the Committee before it finalises its opinion on this novel food ingredient.

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