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Authority approves oats cholesterol claim

Oat foods have had their cholesterol-lowering properties vindicated in the UK after the country?s independent claims authority approved an oats health claim.

The claim states: ?The inclusion of oats as part of a diet low in saturated fat and a healthy lifestyle can help reduce blood cholesterol.? It is only the fourth generic claim approved by the UK?s Joint Health Claims Initiative and follows a similar Swedish claim granted recently. The Food and Drug Administration permitted an oat claim in the US in 1998.

Markku Patajoki, director of Finn Cereal?s Oat Business Unit, which supplies oat brans throughout Europe and elsewhere, said the claim was significant for the oat industry. ?It will be a big help for the oat bran business in the UK, and we expect it will have a positive impact on our business,? he said. ?I hope other European countries will use the UK legislation as an example.?

The claim may also influence European Union health claims proposals currently being debated, he said. To carry the claim, whole oats, oat bran, rolled oats and whole oat flour products must contain at least 0.75g of beta-glucan soluble fibre per serving.

?We don?t think it is very significant because everyone knows oats and heart health go hand-in-hand anyway,? said Helen Park in the UK press office of Unilever, which makes sterol-imbued, cholesterol claim-carrying Flora pro.activ products. ?We don?t think it will have a significant impact on Flora pro.activ.?

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