Background/Aims: In 2011, an independent panel undertook a review of Australian food labelling law and policy. Recommendation 14 of the review stated that total and naturally occurring fibre contents should be considered as mandatory requirements for the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP). Australian and New Zealand health ministers asked FSANZ to provide technical evaluation and advice on this recommendation. In developing our response, we needed to distinguish ‘naturally occurring’ from ‘refined’ dietary fibre.
Methods: FSANZ’s evaluation included the following: General review of the literature on defining and analysing the dietary fibre content. Survey of label information on 100 foods from a single outlet of a major Australian supermarket chain, to identify statements about the fibre present in the food. Literature review on the physiological effects of dietary fibre.
Results: Naturally occurring dietary fibre can often be found together with refined dietary fibres in the same food. There is no available method of analysis that clearly distinguishes naturally occurring from refined dietary fibre, where both fibres are present. Non-analytical alternatives, such as calculations from food composition data, are not feasible due to a lack of information. Differences in physiological effects cannot be used to distinguish naturally occurring from refined dietary fibres.
Conclusions: There is no simple means by which naturally occurring dietary fibre can be distinguished from refined dietary fibre. To separately declare naturally occurring from total dietary fibre in the NIP would be difficult and impractical to implement.
Funding Source: FSANZ did not receive external funding for the above evaluation.