In June 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of eight additional non-digestible carbohydrates that meet the FDA’s definition of dietary fiber. The eight approved fibers include:
- Mixed Plant Cell Wall Fibers (includes apple fiber, bamboo fiber, cotton hull fiber, cottonseed fiber, oat hull fiber, insoluble pea fiber, pea hull fiber, soluble pea fiber, potato fiber, rice bran fiber, soy fiber, sugar beet fiber, sugar cane fiber, wheat fiber)
- Inulin and Inulin-type Fructans
- High Amylose Starch (Resistant Starch II)
- Resistant Maltodextrin/Dextrin (includes Soluble Corn Fiber)
The FDA’s decisions were based on careful review of the scientific evidence supporting the claim of beneficial physiological effects of these ingredients. This evidence was provided by manufacturers and public comments, or was obtained from the FDA’s independent evaluation of available literature. All approved dietary fibers must meet the FDA’s evidence-based definition which states that dietary fiber declared on the updated Nutrition Facts label can include “certain naturally-occurring fibers that are “intrinsic and intact” in plants as well as seven other added isolated or synthetic fibers that are well recognized by the scientific community for having physiological benefits”.
The new guidance, “The Declaration of Certain Isolated or Synthetic Non-Digestible Carbohydrates as Dietary Fiber on Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels” allows these fibers to be counted in the calculation of total fiber per serving for declaration on the Nutrition Fact Label, as well as the Supplement Facts label. Non-digestible carbohydrates which do not meet the regulatory definition of “dietary fiber” at this time can still be used in foods and declared as part of the amount of total carbohydrate on the package.
The FDA continues their review of additional fiber petitions for which decisions are currently pending and notes this task as a high priority. It is expected that additional petitions will be submitted as new science emerges and innovations are made in this area. These requests will be evaluated on a rolling basis, and the FDA indicates that it is likely additional fibers will be recognized in the future. Additionally, with the upcoming January 1, 2020 compliance deadline for manufacturers to implement the new Nutrition Facts label (January 1, 2021 for smaller companies), the FDA is looking to roll out a consumer education campaign.