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Grain fibre claims garner a mixed response from EFSA

By Michelle Knott , 13-Jul-2011

Oat, barley and rye fibre all won positive opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for claims relating to gut health in EFSA’s latest batch of health claims decisions under article 13 of European health claims legislation.

However, while beta-glucans from oat and barley also got the thumbs up for delivering benefits in post-prandial metabolism and insulin sensitivity, the evidence presented for rye was not considered strong enough to demonstrate cause and effect.

Good news for oats and barley

“We’ve got approval for oat and barley fibre increasing faecal bulk, which is good news, although it’s a hard one for the marketing department,” Adrian Meyer, sales and marketing director for Swiss oat company CreaNutrition, told NutraIngredients.

“It’s important to note that we’re not talking about dietary fibre in general but specifically about oat and barley fibre, which contain an ideal combination of insoluble, poorly-fermentable fibre and soluble, highly-fermentable fibre. In other words, the benefit is derived from the specific physicochemical properties of barley and oats.”

“Another of the new article 13 opinions also supports the positive opinion that EFSA gave for our company’s previous application for the ability of oat and barley beta-glucans to control cholesterol.” EFSA’s previous opinion on beta-glucans was released last year under article 14, which covers claims of disease risk reduction.

Rye left trailing

Rye lost out here too. EFSA decided that the single human study behind a cholesterol control claim for rye fibre provided insufficient evidence of cause and effect. This left improvements in gut health arising from rye fibre’s ability to change the bowel function as the only claim for rye to receive a positive outcome in the latest batch of opinions.

It wasn’t a totally clean sweep for oats and barley, however. Oat and barley beta-glucans failed to impress EFSA with evidence to support “fuller for longer” claims based on increased satiety. “There’s still not enough science in the area of satiety, so the decision is not much of a surprise,” acknowledged Meyer. “The industry needs to do more work.”

The other negative opinion was for a claim that beta-glucans improves “digestive function”, which EFSA said was not sufficiently specific.

Suppliers nevertheless welcomed the generally positive outcome. National Starch Food Innovation distributes ConAgra’s SustaGrain range of high-fibre barley products in Europe.

“We are excited by the recent EFSA review and communication of batch five opinions in relation to beta-glucan,” Laura Goodbrand, European marketing manager, nutrition, told NutraIngredients. “We have been keeping a close watch on developments and can see real potential for our ingredients which, based on the recent outcomes, are still under validation by our team.”

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