December 13/Alexandria, Va./US Fed News -- Erich P. Lerchenfeld of Altamonte Springs, Fla., and Donald E. Striegel of Clermont, Fla., have developed beverages containing plant sterols.

According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: "The invention relates to a process for producing a substantially stable dispersion without manufacturing aids, where the dispersion comprises at least one hydrophobic plant sterol and an aqueous material, wherein the plant sterol is selected from plant sterols and plant stanols. The process comprises mixing the plant sterol with the aqueous material to form a first dispersion, homogenizing the first dispersion to obtain a second dispersion of particles wherein the particle size of the hydrophobic plant sterol particles in the first dispersion and the second dispersion is from about 0.1 micron to about 100 microns. Optionally, the process may comprise heating the first dispersion prior to homogenizing, heating the second dispersion after homogenizing, or heating both."

An abstract of the invention, released by the Patent Office, said, "In one embodiment, the aqueous material comprises a beverage concentrate, which includes a juice concentrate, such as a citrus juice concentrate, e.g., an orange juice concentrate. In one aspect of this invention, in order to substantially avoid a powdery taste in the dispersion, the particle size of the plant sterol particles is from about 0.1 micron to about 30 microns and the majority of hydrophobic plant sterol particles within this range will be from about 0.2 microns to about 10 microns and will substantially follow a bell curve distribution."

The inventors were issued U.S. Patent No. 7,306,819 on December 11.

The patent has been assigned to The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta.

From the December 17, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash