With the increasing use of dietary fibre ingredients by food manufacturers it is imperative that food labels listing such ingredients remain as clear, concise and informative as possible for the consumer. In the US, the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) is up in arms this week claiming that new definitions for dietary fibre compiled by Food Nutrition Board (FNB) are totally inadequate.
The definitions proposed by FNB separate fibre into two categories: dietary fibre and functional fibre. According to Jon DeVries, a member of the AACC Dietary Fiber Technical Committee, the FNB definitions not only present analytical and scientific concerns, but they are also confusing to the consumer and could have a negative impact on nutritional research and education.
"A definition for dietary fibre must be scientifically sound, promote international harmonisation, and define the constitution and makeup of macrocomponent food based on its physiological or physical-chemical properties, not its state of being."
DeVries adds that the FNB definitions do not satisfy these requirements and fail to reflect current scientific consensus on the physiology of the dietary fibre, branding them as 'operationally impractical'.
As a replacement for the FNB definitions the AACC has formulated an alternative definition which it hopes will become the global reference.
"Dietary fibre is the edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the human small intestine with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine; dietary fiber includes polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, lignin, and associated plant substances; dietary fibres promote beneficial physiological effects including laxation, and/or blood cholesterol attenuation, and/or blood glucose attenuation."
The AACC has stuck to one category, believing that dividing dietary fibre into two arbitrary categories "will put a severe limitation on food manufacturers trying to produce foods with the elevated fibre content necessary to meet daily recommended intakes". Watch this space.