Sterol cookie launched in US

New Jersey start-up Right Direction Foods has debuted the world's first sterol-fortified cookie in the US. The chocolate chip cookies are marketed with the strap line, 'Right Food, Right Choice, Right Direction,' and flag the presence of '5g dietary fibre, 1.3g plant sterols in each cookie,' although the FDA-approved, sterol food cholesterol-lowering health claim is not employed on the product packaging due to trans-fat and sugar levels.

Initially, the cookies, which retail at about $1 each, are available online. However, the company aims to have retail distribution by year's end. While offering a cholesterol-lowering alternative, the company notes the cookies should not replace cholesterol-lowering, prescription drug treatments, and are only effective in easing mild-to-moderate cholesterol problems. "These cookies can be part of a cholesterol-lowering treatment regimen that includes prescription medication, diet and exercise," said Wendy Miller, MS, RD, and co-creator of Right Direction Cookies.

Clinical research found subjects who ate two chocolate chip Right Direction Cookies each day for 30 days showed a significant drop in total cholesterol from 217mg/dL to 203mg/dL and in LDL cholesterol from 133mg/dL to 120mg/dL with Right Direction Cookies vs a placebo.

A Right Direction spokesperson said the company was educating the public about the cookies' efficacy via consumer and trade press as well as Internet and trade-show exposure, but no advertising campaign was planned. She said the cookies had been well received in taste tests, while not being as sweet as conventional cookies.

The two nutritionists behind Right Direction Cookies, Miller and Norman Null, decided to commercially develop the cookies after positive results from dispensing homemade sterol-fortified cookies to clients.

According to AC Nielsen, the US sterol foods market is estimated at $75 million, compared to $600 million in Europe and $130 million in Japan.

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