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Barley betafibre wins health-claim change

Cargill successfully pushed cardiovascular petition through the process

United States The FDA has agreed to amend an existing health claim relating to soluble fibre and a reduced risk of heart disease to include barley betafibre as an authorised source of soluble fibre.

The decision to widen the scope of the claim was based largely on clinical research commissioned by Wisconsin-based ingredients supplier Cargill, which petitioned for the revision. The research involved Cargill's barley betafibre ingredient, Barl?v, a concentrated beta-glucan soluble fibre derived from whole-grain barley. In tests, researchers found that on average LDL (bad) cholesterol was reduced by 9.5 per cent following consumption of 3g of barley betafibre a day.

The amendment means companies marketing foods containing barley betafibre are entitled to use a health claim such as: "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 3g of beta-glucan soluble fibre from barley betafibre may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of this product provides [specify amount] of this soluble fibre."

This isn't the first time the FDA has amended a health claim. The soluble-fibre health claim has been amended twice before, first to add oatrim and then to add barley foods themselves, such as flour, as eligible sources of soluble fibre. There are only 12 FDA-authorised health claims, and just four of them are related to speciality-food ingredients such as barley betafibre.

"Cargill is pleased that the FDA has extended its soluble-fibre health claim to include barley betafibre," said William Rock, Barl?v product manager. "This is a significant step in Cargill's drive to commercialise new products with high relevance to consumers."

Winning the FDA amendment could help boost barley's position in the US as an alternative source of beta-glucan to oats, said Robert Harwood, principal consultant at CPL Business Consultants, England. "Barley actually contains higher concentrations of beta-glucan than oats, and oats can be very expensive in comparison," he said. "This means barley can be a very cost-effective source of beta-glucan." However, he added, although consumers were conscious that eating products containing oats could lower their cholesterol, they did not necessarily understand that beta-glucan itself was the active ingredient, which implies education is still necessary.

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