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Frequently Asked Questions on Plant Sterols

BfR FAQs, 25 June 2007

Foods that have been enriched with plant sterols are sold on the German market. The foods are said to lower high cholesterol levels. The current offering in the retail trade encompasses margarines as well as dairy products, cheese and bread. The European Commission has approved the addition of plant sterols to fruit juices on a milk basis, soya beverages, spices and salad sauces too. The addition of plant sterols must be indicated on the packaging. The level of sterols is limited to prevent the daily intake from products of this kind exceeding three grams and in order to rule out any possible adverse health effects. Because plant sterols can inhibit the intake of vitamins, the recommendation is given on the packaging that more fruit and vegetables should be eaten. Children under the age of five, pregnant and lactating women should nonetheless not consume the enriched foods. Anyone who takes cholesterol lowering medication should consult a doctor before taking these products.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), together with the consumer centres of the Federal States and their federal association (vzbv) examined whether the wording on the packaging is noticed by consumers and whether they follow the advice and whether foods enriched with plant sterols reach their actual target route – individuals with elevated cholesterol levels. The results of the study on consumer behaviour have been published in the BfR Wissenschaft series and can be accessed on the website under "Publications" (in German). Below the BfR has compiled frequently asked questions about plant sterols and their use in foods.



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Frequently Asked Questions on Plant Sterols 82.0 KB


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