For the first time in the US, fibre intake levels have been established in order to address chronic health conditions.
The new US National Academy of Sciences report revises recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for carbohydrates, to between 45 per cent and 65 per cent of daily calories; for fats, to 20 to 35 per cent; while protein is unchanged, at 10 to 35 per cent.
Of particular interest to the food industry is the provision regarding fibre, with a definition that includes "dietary fibre" and "functional fibre"—the latter of which must possess measurable physiological benefits. The combination of the two equals "total fibre," with RDAs at 38g/day for adult men and 25g/day for adult women.
"This three-part definition varies from the single definition most governments use," said Leila Saldanha, PhD, VP of nutritional sciences at the Consumer Health Products Association in Washington, DC. "It may pose challenges for international harmonisation."
The report acknowledges this: "As nutrition labeling becomes uniform throughout the world, it is recognised that a single definition of fibre may be needed. Furthermore, new products are being developed or isolated that behave like fibre, yet do not meet the traditional definitions of fibre, either analytically or physiologically. A lack of consensus among international groups exists."
Fibre suppliers say the report will raise public awareness. For food technologists, the functional fibre category offers opportunities because the daily fibre intake is likely too high to meet without supplementing or eating a functional food product. "Because our OatVantage soluble fibre is more concentrated, it'll probably fall into the functional fibre category," said Greg Stephens, VP of sales and marketing for Nurture, based in Devon, Pennsylvania. "This differentiates it from commodities like guar gum."
The complete report is available online at www.nap.edu/books/0309085373/html/