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Food company admits that margarine Becel pro.activ contains plant sterols, which lead to deposits in the vessels
According to the consumer protection organization "Foodwatch", the manufacturer of the cholesterol-lowering margarine "Becel pro.activ" admitted during the trial before the regional court in Hamburg that the margarine contains plant sterols, which can lead to deposits in the vessels.
During the trial, the Hamburg court asked the manufacturer of the "Becel pro.activ" margarine to submit a written statement as to whether plant sterols lead to deposits in the vessels. The consumer organization had accused the food manufacturer of denying such indications of side effects of "Becel pro.activ" (file number: 324 O 64/12).
The company had quoted a scientist as saying that there was "no scientific evidence" of side effects from the named margarine. However, a number of studies in the past have repeatedly suggested that the plant sterols used in "Becel pro.activ" lead to deposits in the vessels. This could be accompanied by heart diseases that the product is supposed to prevent.
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment calls for reassessment
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) had also based on the scientific studies demanded "that the European Food Safety Authority EFSA should carry out a reassessment of products with plant sterols." Foodwatch consumer advocates had filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer on January 17 this year because who, in the opinion of "Foodwatch", would "deny" the evidence of side effects.
During the trial, the presiding judge described the dispute as a "borderline case." The board therefore decided that the statement made by Unilever could be considered "as an expression of opinion". This, however, thwarted Foodwatch's goal. The initiative wanted the factual claim to be verified for truth. Nevertheless, the judges raised the question of the extent to which the food company itself believes there are side effects.
Unilever-Becel-pro.activ product manager Arne Kirchem said in a contribution to the program "Spiegel-TV" in April this year: "The plant sterols that remain in the body, like cholesterol, will probably also be deposited in the walls of the vessels. "This statement was also confirmed by the legal representative of the group during the hearing. However, the latter took the view that the deposits would not have any health consequences for consumers.
Functional foods should be evaluated as medicines
Large corporations have been selling and developing so-called functional foods that are said to be beneficial to health for a long time. Again and again there are indications for a large number of products that they do exactly the opposite. Regardless of the end of the process, “Foodwatch” now asked Unilever to no longer offer cholesterol-lowering margarine freely in the supermarket, but only to sell it in pharmacies on a doctor's prescription. "Becel pro.activ is like a drug that people use to control their blood values in an uncontrolled manner - that hasn't lost anything in the supermarket," says a statement by consumer advocates. In addition, the group should "not only look at sales, but at the health of its customers." According to Foodwatch, a "potentially risky product" should go through an approval process under pharmaceutical law, so that it can be ensured that consumption "only takes place under medical supervision." "Said a spokesman for the food protection. A final verdict is expected for October 5. (sb)