Fiber reduces a food’s calorie count because it is, by nature, indigestible. But fiber additions also boost the food’s health-and-wellness image. Depending on the level present, added dietary fiber supports several attractive health claims. To make a “good source” claim for a particular nutrient, the food must contain 10 to 19% of that nutrient’s Daily Value (DV) while an “excellent source” ups that to 20% or more, as defined in 21 CFR 101.54. Usually, good and excellent claims can only be made for low-fat foods, but the regulations exempt fiber claims from this requirement as long at the label declares the total fat per serving.

Fiber’s DV is 25 g for a daily diet of 2,000 Cal, and most fiber-enhancing ingredients contain enough fiber to support health claims. As Neelesh Varde, PhD, senior project manager, fiber platform, Roquette America, Inc., Keokuk, IA, noted, the company’s soluble fiber derived from corn or wheat is 85% fiber by weight. Thus, finished foods formulated to contain 3 g per serving would qualify as a “good source,” and those with 6 g could claim “excellent source.”

“Fiber ingredients are also getting a lot of play in the whole-grain category,” said Judy Turner, manager, food ingredient applications, Tate & Lyle (Americas), Decatur, IL. The reason? Many consumers think that whole-grain products automatically contain high fiber content. But standard 100% whole-wheat bread carries just 1.9 g fiber per 28-g slice, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. “Fiber is added to supplement the flour to meet the consumer’s expectation,” she added.

According to Rajen S. Mehta, PhD, senior director, fiber applications, SunOpta Ingredients Group, Chelmsford, MA, a single source of added fiber won’t get the formulator much beyond 5 g dietary fiber per 50-g serving. “But by combining multiple sources, you can reach higher levels to get to the fiber-enhancement target required,” he said.