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Room to grow: Bakery sector fiber health claims

By Shane Starling+

Last updated on 19-Apr-2013 at 15:40 GMT2013-04-19T15:40:26Z

Fiber health claims have potential, but challenges remain

Fiber health claims have potential, but challenges remain

The bakery industry may prefer nutrition content to genuine health claims - a state-of-affairs that reflects the relative few claim-backed nutrients available to breads, cereals, bars and other baked products – but options do exist.

Of the nutrition versus health claims situation, Datamonitor Consumer’s Tom Vierhile notes: “Positive health claims for the market look low, but nutrition claims like ‘high fiber’ and ‘gluten-free’ are gaining, though you wonder how much higher the latter can go.”

‘High fiber’ actually comes fourth among most popular global nutrition claims for bakery products, ‘gluten-free’ is fifth. The top three are ‘vegetarian’, ‘no preservatives’ and ‘no artificial color’.

Not to say there aren’t more functional nutrients and associated health claims available. After all, bakery possesses one of the world’s most successful functional food products: A heart health, omega-3 white bread sold in Australia whose success has been un-replicated in other parts of the world.

It accounts for something like 10% of white bread sales in that country.

What other kinds of fortification-claim options exist? Let’s focus on an obvious place for bakery formulation – fiber.

If we drill into Europe’s increasingly influential claims system, punching fiber into the EU’s newly made and super strict register of health claims reveals some joy. There lie six article 13.1, general function health claims, although they have not been heaviily utilized to date.

Claim options

Perhaps the reason the successful claims have not been more readily employed is because five of them refer to bowel movement regularity which is a) a given in many consumer’s minds when they think of fiber and b) not a very sexy health claim.

Stating that your oat grain bar, contributes to an increase in faecal bulk” is not necessarily an on-shelf winner. But the claims do affirm an important function of fiber for oat, barley, rye and wheat and there is some flexibility in claim wording that could make these messages more appealing to shoppers.

Wheat bran fiber can also claim that it, “contributes to an acceleration of intestinal transit”, with wordings around ‘easy digestion’ potentially coming into play.

The other article 13.1 winner is wheat endosperm extract, arabinoxylan. Foods containing 8g of arabinoxylan can claim to reduce blood glucose increases after meals – important for those seeking to manage their weight, not to mention diabetics.

Swiss-Swedish firm CreaNutrition – bought by DSM at the end of last year – also won an article 14 claim linking oat beta-glucan with cholesterol management and its ingredient is finding its way into an assortment of products from supplements to bars to cereals.


In the EU's claim register are many more rejections. Since 2008, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EU’s science agency, has assessed thousands of submitted claims and rejected most for a lack of clinical data that meet its strict cause and effect criteria.

Not that a rejection is necessarily the end of the story as nutrition science evolves, and anyway, some of the initial dossiers submitted up to five years ago were not compiled very well, and have potential for tweaked resubmissions with a better chance of success.

For example, a whole bunch of claims ranging from heart health to immunity to, yes, bowel control, were rejected for ‘dietary fiber’ because EFSA’s health claims panel deemed ‘dietary fiber’ to be too broad a definer of fiber; ‘uncharacterised’ in EFSA speak. They could be up for resubmission.

Aside from those, other potential resubmissions could include:

  • Acacia gum/gum arabic (prebiotic effects)
  • Barley grain fiber (satiety)
  • Oat grain fiber (satiety)
  • Wheat grain fiber (satiety)
  • Chitosan from shellfish (laxative)
  • Fructooligosaccharides from sucrose (prebiotic effects)
  • Fructose and dextrose (satiety)
  • Inulin/oligofructose (prebiotic effects)
  • Rye fiber (cholesterol control)
  • Sugar beet fiber (digestion, cholesterol and blood sugar management)

Options abound. And that’s just fiber, and that’s just Europe…

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