Cognis Wins Approval for Plant Sterols in Canada

Canadians can soon purchase foods with Cognis’ Heart Choice® phytosterols that help to reduce cholesterol levels. A recent ruling by Health Canada now allows Cognis’ natural plant sterol and sterol esters to be used in food products. In June 2009, when Cognis submitted a Novel Food application, phytosterols were only approved for use in dietary supplements. The Novel Food approval includes criteria for the use of a health claim for cholesterol lowering, as well.

Phytosterols are found naturally in vegetables, fruits, vegetable oils, legumes, nuts, and grains. Survey findings show that a dietary gap often exists because concentrated levels of sterols are associated with high-fat foods, so consumers limiting fat intake may omit these foods from their diet. Since the molecular structure of plant sterols is almost identical to cholesterol, the body accepts plant sterols as though they were cholesterol, blocking the absorption of dietary cholesterol into the bloodstream.

Cognis’ phytosterols enjoy regulatory approval in numerous countries. They are marketed with the ingredient brand name Heart Choice® in North America and Vegapure® in other regions of the world. In Canada, the approved daily serving is up to the equivalent of 3 grams of free sterols. Food applications include unstandardized spreads, mayonnaise, margarine, calorie-reduced margarine, salad dressing and unstandardized salad dressings, yogurt and yogurt drinks, and vegetable and fruit juices.

Laura Troha, Marketing Manager, Cognis Nutrition & Health, explained that Cognis works diligently with regulators, including those in Canada, so consumers can benefit from the compelling clinical evidence on phytosterols. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, cardiovascular disease accounts for the death of more Canadians than any other disease. Ninety percent of Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke (smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes).

“With our market leadership position in plant sterol esters, Cognis is committed to building consumer awareness so Canadians and others around the globe can benefit from safe, naturally derived and effective intervention options available which may help counter these sobering statistics,” Ms. Troha said. Heart Choice® phytosterols are clinically proven to lower cholesterol up to 15 percent with a health claim approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Health Canada also released health claim guidance to food manufacturers who wish to make health claims for their foods containing added plant sterols. Health Canada's view is that the health claims set out below are substantiated when certain criteria are met.

“[serving size from Nutrition Facts table in metric and common household measures] of [naming the product] provides X% of the daily amount* of plant sterols shown to help reduce/lower cholesterol in adults.”

Two additional statements that could be used in combination or alone, adjacent to the primary statement:
1) “Plant sterols help reduce [or help lower] cholesterol.”
2) “High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.”

Cognis is a founding member of the Collaboration for Advancement of Plant Sterols in Canada (CAPSIC), a group formed by food companies to communicate the health benefits of these important nutrients. Ms. Troha explained that CAPSIC funds sterol-rich seeds research and Cognis is leading efforts for Canadian public health and agriculture studies on plant sterols.

Major food manufacturers and retailers in Canada are in the final stages of product development with Cognis and the country’s first foods with Heart Choice® natural plants sterols are expected to be launched within a few months. Ms. Troha pointed out that Cognis will be supporting Canadian marketing efforts with value-added programs at the retail level, in addition to public relations and advertising in popular media outlets such as WebMD and Health magazine. Consumers can also find easy-to-understand heart health research and answers to their cholesterol questions at

About Heart Choice®:
Heart Choice® ingredients meet the requirements for Novel Foods approval in Canada and the unqualified FDA-approved health claim in the U.S. for phytosterols and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. With a broad portfolio of natural source, kosher, non-GM/IP certified plant sterols and sterol esters, Cognis’ product line is ideal for a variety of functional food applications and dietary supplements. Cognis has demonstrated a leadership position in sterols for decades, with production facilities in the United States, Germany and France.

For more information about Cognis’ Heart Choice® natural phytosterols, visit or, or in North America, call 800.673.3702 to place an order or e-mail [email protected].

About Cognis
Cognis is a worldwide supplier of specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients, with a particular focus on innovative products in the areas of wellness and sustainability. The company employs about 5,600 people, and it operates production sites and service centers in 30 countries. Cognis has dedicated its activities to a high level of sustainability and provides value adding solutions and products based on renewable raw materials. The company serves the food, nutrition and healthcare markets, and the cosmetics, detergents and cleaners industries. Another main focus is on products for a number of other industries, such as coatings and inks, lubricants, as well as agriculture and mining.

Cognis is owned by private equity funds advised by Permira, GS Capital Partners, and SV Life Sciences. In 2009, Cognis recorded sales of about 2.6 billion euros and an Adjusted EBITDA (operating result) of 364 million euros.

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