Inulin, FOS and GOS assessed in Australia, NZ

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Australia new zealand, Fructooligosaccharide

Regulations concerning the addition of inulin, fructo
oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto oligosaccharides (GOS) to foods,
both as a nutritive substance and as a sweetener, are being
considered in Australia and New Zealand.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) will be calling for comment on its proposal and application on these ingredients to provide clarity for industry, enforcement agencies and other key stakeholders. In July, the agency advised parents to stop using Australian Nutricia's Karicare Gold Plus range of formulas that contained FOS because of concerns on the process of how this ingredient is classified. The ingredient is also used as a prebiotic and sweetener in non-infant foods, such as diet bars, but the infant formulas were of particular concern as they make up 100 per cent of a baby's diet. Inulin, FOS and GOS are non-digestible carbohydrates that reach the colon intact and are hydrolysed by specific positive members of the colon microflora. They act as prebiotics and have been used in infant formula to soften the stools of formula-fed babies. Many oligosaccharides are actually found naturally in breast milk. As well as considering the addition of FOS and GOS to all foods, the proposal focuses on special purpose foods, including infant formula products, foods for infants and formulated supplementary foods for young children. There is some interest in marketing further infant and toddle products with added FOS and GOS. At the moment, there is confusion over whether pre-market approval is required for use in these types of foods because they are defined as nutritive substances by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. The FSANZ has commenced work on the paid application (A609), which seeks to amend the Code to permit the addition of GOS and long chain inulin to infant formula products and foods for infants in a ratio of 9:1 and at a maximum level of 0.8g/100 ml and 0.8/100g respectively. The agency is also completing a risk assessment and seeking and external peer review, and will release a draft assessment report for public comment at the end of November. FOS was approved in the European Union seven years ago for addition in restricted amounts to infant formula (for babies up to six months) and follow-on formula (for babies between six and 12 months). The US considers it as generally recognised as safe. Modern recommendations for inulin and oligofructose intake are between five and eight grams per day.

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