Consumption of food and beverages with added plant sterols
Food products with added plant sterols are widely available in the EU, such as yellow fat spreads, dairy products and sauces including mayonnaises. Consuming plant sterols has been shown to
help reduce blood cholesterol as part of a healthy diet. However, high doses can also reduce levels of carotenoids in the blood. These are a source of vitamin A and may help reduce the risk of
certain chronic health disorders including some forms of cancer.
To help ensure safe consumption levels, EU rules are in place governing labelling and maximum concentrations in certain food categories. To help assess whether consumers are restricting intake
of such products to below the recommended maximum level of 3g per day, the European Commission asked EFSA to gather and analyse consumption data in the EU. This report presents the findings of
EFSA’s Data Collection and Exposure Unit.
The report highlights that while there seems to be little over-consumption of such products in the EU, a small established subgroup appears to be consuming in excess of recommended amounts. It
also reveals low consumer awareness of labelling and dietary guidelines for such products and of the need to consume sufficient fruit and vegetables to ensure robust blood carotenoid levels.