The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fiber on its radar, in terms of quantifying it in foods and declaring it on the Nutrition Facts Panel on food packaging. When the agency plans to officially address this topic — and even speculation on its approach — is very much an unknown.
For the most part, the industry hopes FDA will align with current science on fiber and work to create global harmony regarding this nutrient of importance, according to Julie Paul, RD, senior regulatory scientist, Cargill.
FDA’s current position combines intrinsic and added fiber measurements for a total fiber content per serving. “FDA’s main concern seems to be to have the Nutrition Facts Panel provide consumers with information on the amount of fiber that provides a healthy effect in their body,” said Jessica Belz, director of quality assurance, Fiberstar. “FDA wants to make sure added fibers show evidence of a beneficial effect.”
The agency proposed that suppliers of all types of non-digestible carbohydrates, including all types of dietary fibers, provide scientific evidence demonstrating the fiber has a beneficial physiological effect, noted Jon Peters, president, Beneo Inc. “Upon positive review, the agency will list these non-digestible carbohydrates, making them eligible for dietary fiber labeling,” he said.
Ms. Belz added that FDA appears to be firm about keeping fiber included in the “total carbohydrate” calculation for nutrition labels. “I am optimistic FDA will alter the calculation of ‘calories from carbohydrates’ when the agency finalizes the new rules,” she said. “Under existing rules, insoluble fibers may already be excluded from the carbohydrate calorie calculation of 4 Cal per gram. I predict FDA will further improve the calorie calculation by allowing soluble non-digestible fibers to use a value of 2 Cal per gram. This would put the US in line with what is going on in the rest of the world.”