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Impact on Nutrition Labeling

Adoption of the proposed definitions will have a positive, informative impact on nutrition labeling. The current system of labeling for dietary fiber— dietary fiber, insoluble and/or soluble—will be replaced by two values: Dietary Fiber and Added Fiber. After an education process, consumers will learn that both Dietary Fiber and Added Fiber are considered to play a role in health. Dietary Fiber will include plant foods in which the fiber is relatively intact and nutrients other than fiber that are present and may contribute significantly to the attributed overall health effects. Added Fiber will contain only those fibers shown to have positive health benefits. It is assumed that the food industry will promote the health benefits of their Added Fibers, and therefore, consumers will be able to anticipate the types of beneficial effects that may occur if they consume foods containing these Added Fibers. In the future it is anticipated that the specific types of Added Fibers will be part of the food label, thus providing the consumer and health professional with additional information. Total Fiber will be the sum of Dietary Fiber and Added Fiber, so if the consumer wants to know the total amount of fiber per serving this value will provide that information. Since it is recommended that the current designations “soluble” and “insoluble” dietary fiber be eliminated from the label, their removal will provide space for the inclusion of Dietary Fiber and Added Fiber.

As discussed earlier, a separate issue regarding nutrition labeling centers on accurate analytical verification of the division of Total Fiber into Dietary Fiber and Added Fiber. In addition, dietary fiber is currently assigned an energy value of 0 kcal/g if it is insoluble and 4 kcal/g if it is soluble. Although not a task of this report, the complexity of assigning these somewhat arbitrary energy values to dietary fiber is discussed in detail in Appendix D.

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