WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 10 said it intends to propose that glucomannan meets the agency’s definition of dietary fiber because it has been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol, which qualifies as a physiological health benefit. Glucomannan is found in the tuber or root of the elephant yam, also known as the konjac plant.
The F.D.A. in 2016 gave a definition for dietary fiber for the first time as certain naturally occurring fibers that are “intrinsic and intact” in plants and added isolated or synthetic non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates that the F.D.A. has determined have physiological effects that benefit human health.
The F.D.A. agreed with a citizen petition dated Feb. 24, 2018, from The Food Lawyers, Los Angeles, requesting that konjac flour, also known as konjac glucomannan, be listed as dietary fiber on the Nutrition Facts Label. The F.D.A., after reviewing the petition, granted the request in saying glucomannan had a beneficial physiological effect in that it helps to reduce cholesterol.
Konjac flour may be turned into a stiff, viscous jelly, and the material is high in fiber and virtually free of calories, according to the fourth edition of Baking Science & Technology published by Sosland Publishing Company, Kansas City.
With the F.D.A.’s notification for glucomannan, there are now 17 categories of non-digestible carbohydrates, including a broad category of mixed plant cell wall fibers, that either are included in the definition of dietary fiber or are non-digestible carbohydrates that the F.D.A. intends to propose be added to the definition. Seven of the fibers were identified in the Nutritions Facts Label final rule as meeting the dietary fiber definition, according to the F.D.A. Until the agency completes rulemaking to add additional fibers to the regulatory definition of dietary fiber, it said it will exercise enforcement discretion to allow manufacturers to include the amount of the additional fibers in the dietary fiber declaration.
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