The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that food companies will be allowed to make qualified health claims about the monounsaturated fat contained in olive oil.

The FDA said there is limited but not conclusive evidence that suggests that consumers may reduce their risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) if they consume monounsaturated fat from olive oil and olive oil-containing foods in place of foods high in saturated fat, while at the same time not increasing the total number of calories consumed daily.

"With this claim, consumers can make more informed decisions about maintaining healthy dietary practices," said Dr. Lester M. Crawford, Acting FDA Commissioner. "Since CHD is the number one killer of both men and women in the US, it is a public health priority to make sure that consumers have accurate and useful information on reducing their risk."

Although the research is not conclusive, the FDA said the following health claim would be allowed on food labels of olive oil and certain foods that contain olive oil:

"Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. One serving of this product [Name of food] contains [x] grams of olive oil."