The UK's Joint Health Claims Initiative has reduced the minimum amount of soy protein required in a product for the soy health claim, allowing a greater number of foods to display the cholesterol-lowering message.
The move followed a submission from the European Soy Protein Association requesting that the minimum soy protein serving size be reduced from 6.25g to 5g. Consumers now need to eat five servings of soy food daily rather than previously recommended four, to meet the 25g specified by the health claim.
"This does not in any way change the health claim. We still need to eat 25g of soy protein daily to benefit from soy's health effects but the changes provide consumers with more foods to choose from to reach this 25g," Melanie Ruffell, director of the JHCI, told NutraIngredients.com.
Soy is one of the most widely studied foods for its health benefits. It is thought to not only lower cholesterol, but also have a preventative effect on breast cancer and other hormone-related cancers. The US has also approved a health claim for soy.
The JHCI, a code of practice for use of health claims developed by consumer organisations and the food industry in the UK, is expected to inform forthcoming European legislation on health claims in foods.
The generic health claim on soy protein, 'the inclusion of at least 25g soya protein per day as part of a diet low in saturated fat can help reduce blood cholesterol', was approved in July 2002. The organisation has also approved generic claims for fruit and lung cancer, vegetables and bowel cancer and wholegrain foods and heart health.
There is however no follow-up process to assess the claims currently being used on the British market. The JHCI will next month present results of an investigation, commissioned by the UK's Food Standards Agency, into the health claims being used by food makers.
Sweden has also set up a pre-market approval system for health claims, coordinated by the Swedish Nutrition Foundation. Last week it revealed that Skane Dairy had been awarded a health claim for a probiotic product.