Safety of the extension of use of plant sterol esters as a novel food pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283

phytosterols, plant sterol esters, oxidation products, cholesterol, heating, cooking
First published in the EFSA Journal
30 Junio 2020
5 Mayo 2020
Scientific Opinion


Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on the safety of an extension of use of the novel food ‘plant sterol esters’ when added to vegetable fat spreads and to liquid vegetable fat‐based emulsions for cooking and baking purposes pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283. Member States expressed concerns in relation to plant sterol oxidation products (POP) and consumption by non‐target population groups. The median (0.5%) and P90 (2.28%) value of the oxidation rates of plant sterols determined by a wide range of cooking experiments were used together with exposure estimates for plant sterol when added and cooked with vegetable fat spreads and liquids. The no‐observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of a subchronic rat study and an applied default uncertainty factor of 200 served to derive levels (i.e. 0.64 mg POP/kg body weight (bw) per day) considered safe for humans. This safe level of exposure would be exceeded at the P95 by all age groups when considering the P90 oxidation rate and using EFSA's comprehensive food consumption database for assessing the potential exposure. When considering the median oxidation rate, the safe level of 0.64 mg POP/kg bw per day would be exceeded at the highest P95 intake estimates in children below 9 years of age. When considering an intake of the maximum authorised use level of 3 g plant sterols/person per day and oxidation rates of 0.5% and 2.28%, the resulting daily POP intakes per kg bw by an adult weighing 70 kg would be 0.21 and 0.98 mg/kg bw per day, respectively, the latter value exceeding 0.64 mg/kg bw per day. The Panel concludes that the safety of the intended extension of use of plant sterol esters under the proposed conditions of use has not been established.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Dominique Turck, Jacqueline Castenmiller, Stefaan De Henauw, Karen Ildico Hirsch‐Ernst, John Kearney, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Alexandre Maciuk, Inge Mangelsdorf, Harry J McArdle, Androniki Naska, Carmen Pelaez, Kristina Pentieva, Alfonso Siani, Frank Thies, Sophia Tsabouri and Marco Vinceti.
Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens
nda [at]
EFSA Journal 2020;18(6):6135
Question Number
On request from
European Commission following an application by (originally) Unilever Research and Development Vlaardingen B.V (now Upfield Research and Development B.V.)