FDA Issues List of Acceptable Dietary Fibers

June 14, 2018
Eight new fibers are: mixed plant cell wall fibers; arabinoxylan; alginate; inulin; high amylose starch; galactooligosaccharide; polydextrose; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin.

Eight new fibers are: mixed plant cell wall fibers; arabinoxylan; alginate; inulin; high amylose starch; galactooligosaccharide; polydextrose; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin.

A handful of ingredient suppliers was celebrating today the approval of their ingredients as dietary fibers recognized by the FDA.

Tate & Lyle emailed us that its Promitor Soluble Fiber (a resistant maltodextrin), and Sta-Lite Polydextrose have been included under its new definition of dietary fiber. Sensus said its Frutafit and Frutalose chicory root fibers also were confirmed as dietary fibers by the FDA.

The FDA announcement said: "The eight new fibers are: mixed plant cell wall fibers (a broad category that includes fibers like sugar cane fiber and apple fiber, among many others); arabinoxylan; alginate; inulin and inulin-type fructans; high amylose starch (resistant starch 2); galactooligosaccharide; polydextrose; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin."

"As part of those efforts [to update nutrition information overall], today the FDA issued decisions on citizen petitions regarding additional dietary fibers," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. "We also issued a guidance that will allow food manufacturers to count these fibers when calculating the total amount of fiber per serving to declare on the Nutrition Facts label. They can also be counted as fiber on the Supplement Facts label.

"Our work is not done. We have received additional petitions asking for additional fibers to be recognized in a similar fashion to the eight dietary fibers we are identifying today. We are actively evaluating these additional requests….We recognize the importance of providing timely responses so that food makers have certainty around their manufacturing decisions. We also welcome the submission of additional petitions in the future as science emerges and as new ingredients are identified. Our expectation is that we will continue to evaluate additional dietary fibers on a rolling basis, and we expect that additional fibers may be recognized in the future."

All of these decisions result from FDA’s 2016 announcement that it would review the many ingredients that claimed to be dietary fiber, part of the agency's ramp-up to the new Nutrition Facts label final rule. FDA’s final rule, published on May 27, 2016, required that only certain naturally occurring dietary fibers such as those found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and added isolated or synthetic fibers that FDA has determined have a physiological effect that is beneficial to human health, could be declared on the label under “Dietary Fiber.”

That resulted in a number of ingredient suppliers filing petitions and supporting evidence for their ingredients to be recognized as dietary fibers. Those ingredient companies, and the processors that depend upon their ingredients, have been on pins and needles since.

"Previously, fibers in foods could be labeled as dietary fiber without necessarily providing physiological effects that are beneficial to human health," the agency warned in 2016. "Naturally occurring fibers contained in foods have already been determined to have physiological benefits. In addition to fiber that is naturally occurring in foods, the rule identified seven fibers that, when added to foods, could be declared as dietary fiber.”

"Consumers can be assured that non-digestible carbohydrates counted as fiber on the new Nutrition Facts label have health benefits grounded in scientific evidence," Gottlieb said today. "Eating foods rich in dietary fiber, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, can help cholesterol levels, increase feelings of fullness (satiety) resulting in reduced calorie intake, and increase the frequency of bowel movements.

"We are taking a flexible approach to dietary fiber," Gottlieb continued, "allowing for the possibility of additional fibers to be added to the list of those meeting our dietary fiber definition if the scientific evidence shows they are physiologically beneficial."

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