by Anna Soref
Cargill's beta glucan fiber ingredient Barliv can now join the ranks of other ingredients touting a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved health claim. Earlier this week the FDA gave Minneapolis-based Cargill's Barliv a green light to use the agency's reduced risk of heart disease health claim.
The original petition for approval was filed by Cargill in 2006.
Barliv is a concentrated beta glucan fiber extracted from the barley plant. Part of the plant cell wall, beta glucan is a water-soluble fiber that occurs in some plants. Barliv can be used in a variety of food products to increase fiber content including baked goods, cereals, beverages and snack products.
"This is really great news. It takes a lot of evidence to convince the FDA that [an ingredient] meets that standard; the bar is set very high," said Andrew Shao, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Washington DC-based Council for Responsible Nutrition.
Studies demonstrate that Barliv, much like oats, can lower cholesterol. With heart disease ranked as the leading cause of death in the U.S. Cargill can only stand to benefit.
"A health claim can help open the flood gates and many of [Cargill's] customers might be knocking on their door wanting product. Our awareness of chronic disease is at an all-time high, so if you can say a product protects from disease, it helps sell the product," Shao said.
An example of a heart-health claim for products containing beta glucan is: "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 3 grams of beta-glucan soluble fiber from barley betafiber may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of [insert name of food] provides [insert number] of grams of this soluble fiber."