Despite the current government deregulation trend, the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) recently published long-overdue final guidance on fiber ingredients, providing bakers with clarity in labeling and motivation to boost the fiber content of baked foods. The June posting in the Federal Register recognized an additional eight non-digestible carbohydrates as fiber, a nutrient of concern in the American diet.
The F.D.A.’s newly recognized fibers include inulin and inulin-type fructans, including chicory root fiber; high-amylose starch (resistant starch 2); polydextrose; mixed plant cell wall fibers, including sugar cane fiber and apple fiber; arabinoxylan; alginate; galactooligosaccharide; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin.
The supporting research clearly showed that these fibers support physiological health benefits as assessed by the F.D.A.’s strict criteria.
“The problem with the original proposed definition of fiber was that F.D.A. provided a very limited list of ingredients that had been determined to have physiological effects that are beneficial to human health,” said Scott Turowski, technical manager, Sensus America. “This list excluded the majority of ingredients currently utilized in the market as sources of dietary fiber.”
There’s long been a plethora of varied fiber ingredients available to bakers. Now, bakers can choose wisely based on functional performance in the application and desired label claims. In some instances, claims may be specific health benefits, where other times it’s simply a fiber content claim.
“Selecting the right type of fiber is critical,” said Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager, nutrition, Ingredion, Inc. “Different fibers, for example, can be used to enhance texture — from crunchy to chewy to soft — as well as control moisture or reduce calories. They can be used to maintain volume and dimensional stability while increasing the shelf life of baked products.”
Of the recently recognized non-digestible carbohydrate fibers, chicory root fiber — also known as inulin — is commonly used in baked foods. Depending on the supplier and the specific composition, it may appear on ingredient statements as chicory root fiber (vegetable fiber), fructooligosaccharide (scFOS), oligosaccharide, chicory extract, chicory fiber or fructan.
“In baked goods, chicory root fiber acts as a bulking agent, replacing the bulk left from sugar reduction,” said Bill Gilbert, certified master baker, principal food technologist, Cargill. “We generally recommend replacing sugar one-to-one with chicory root fiber. While many bulking agents result in finished products with a crisper or firmer texture, chicory root fiber more closely mimics the texture of its full-sugar counterpart.”
Studies by numerous suppliers show that consumers recognize these non-G.M.O. ingredients as label-friendly and are aware of their health benefits, which include functioning as a prebiotic, boosting immunity, supporting weight management and helping the body absorb calcium.
“Functionally, chicory root fiber has properties that enable it to be used as a replacement for sugar, fat or flour, providing the potential for additional health benefits,” Mr. Turowski said.
It also has been shown to positively impact the texture of gluten-free baked foods. It does this by improving mouthfeel and rheology of the dough or batter.
Beneo’s prebiotic inulin and oligofructose fibers are used in a variety of baked foods, said Jon Peters, president, Beneo, Inc.
“Thanks to their high solubility, these prebiotic fibers can be easily formulated in all kinds of snack foods to enhance their digestive health benefits,” he said. “They are also valuable for reducing the sugar and calorie content of a variety of snack products. As a result, prebiotic fibers enable food manufacturers to produce reduced-fat and reduced-sugar versions of traditionally indulgent food products such as cookies, biscuits or cereal bars while promoting positive gut health and keeping the impact on blood glucose levels to a minimum.”
The F.D.A.’s recent ruling on additional fibers qualified three ingredients from Ingredion. One is an inulin-type fructan described as a short-chain scFOS. The others are high-amylose maize resistant starch 2 and galactooligosaccharide. The latter is recognized for supporting immune and digestive health.
The scFOS is produced from non-G.M.O. sucrose (cane sugar) and is a soluble prebiotic fiber. It is 30% less sweet than sugar, enabling partial sugar replacement. Use is limited to baked non-yeast-leavened products, as yeast will use scFOS as an energy source, thus eliminating the benefits it delivers to the consumer.
“Because it is made from sucrose, it has a clean, slightly sweet flavor and performs similar to sugar at typical inclusion levels,” Mr. Luchsinger said. “It works well in protein bars as it adds humectancy and does not participate in the Maillard reaction and therefore does not brown.”
The resistant starch enables flour replacement and caloric reduction in baked foods and nutritional bars. It supports balanced energy by reducing the glycemic response to foods and improving carbohydrate metabolism. Mr. Luchsinger said it is a white fiber that can be incorporated into a variety of baked foods, replacing up to 20% of flour. Ingredion’s offering is also the subject of an F.D.A.-authorized qualified health claim for reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
“Resistant starch contributes valuable functional and processing attributes to many baked goods,” Mr. Luchsinger said.
Benefits include improved yield in bread, higher moisture content in soft cookies and crispiness in sheeted goods. It also may be labeled as simply corn starch.
ADM/Matsutani L.L.C. offers a digestion-resistant maltodextrin that is part of the recently approved fiber list. Heat-, acid-, shear- and freeze/thaw-stable, the ingredient is 90% fiber and may be labeled as soluble corn fiber, soluble vegetable fiber, digestion resistant maltodextrin or maltodextrin. More than 20 years of clinical research and almost 100 published studies contributed to demonstrating the ingredient’s physiological benefits, which include maintaining intestinal regularity, attenuating post-meal blood glucose levels and retaining healthy post-meal serum triglycerides. Recent studies have also shown this digestion-resistant maltodextrin to be a prebiotic fiber that provides an increased feeling of satiety.
Several ingredients are now recognized as fiber because they are mixed-plant cell-wall fibers. This includes oat fiber. Tate & Lyle’s soluble fiber ingredient, a resistant maltodextrin, and its polydextrose are also now included under the F.D.A.’s new definition of dietary fiber. The company’s beta glucan ingredient was immediately qualified under the new definition because of a pre-existing F.D.A.-authorized health claim for oat beta glucan.
Grain Millers markets a proprietary oat fiber with a variety of functional characteristics. It is made using a chemical-free, environmentally sound processing technique. Oat fiber’s functional properties include improved product texture and integrity as well as enhanced crumb softness in baked foods.
Soy fiber was also added to the list.
“Our soy fiber is obtained from soybean cotyledon rather than the hull,” said Troy Boutte, principal scientist, bakery, DuPont Nutrition & Health. “It provides water absorption, which maintains softness of baked goods in abusive applications, such as microwaving.”
DuPont offers a wide range of pectins, which are derived from citrus peels, as well as guar gum, locust bean gum and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose. All were recognized as fiber in the original definition.
No matter the fiber, the F.D.A.’s recent ruling provides clear direction for companies looking to add value to their products.