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Fiber Revisited: Closing the Gap

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On May 27, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a definition of “dietary fiber” and created a pre-approval system for various isolated and synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (NDCs). For all food labeled on or after Jan. 1, 2020, the isolated or synthetic NDCs must be determined by FDA to have a physiological effect that is beneficial to human health before they can be counted as dietary fiber for nutrition labeling purposes.

Dietary fiber is now defined by FDA as “non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units), and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants; isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units) determined by FDA to have physiological effects that are beneficial to human health.”

This change has impacted product development in some significant ways.

According to Aouatef Bellamine, PhD, senior science manager, Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition, Morristown, NJ, the new fiber definition means dietary supplement formulators and manufacturers will need to either adhere to this list of ingredients if they want to make a fiber claim, or petition for their fiber source to be added to the definition.

One company doing just that is Somerville, NJ-based Nexira, which along with representatives of the gum acacia industry, is conducting additional studies to strengthen the evidence supporting the beneficial effects of gum acacia on blood glucose attenuation and energy intake, noted Julie Impérato, marketing manager. After completion of the studies, Nexira is expected to submit a Citizen Petition to FDA in the spring of 2019 to request that gum acacia be recognized as a dietary fiber for nutrition labeling and claims on foods and beverages. “We are hopeful to receive a positive response from FDA by the summer of 2019,” said Ms. Impérato.

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