Food Law News - UK - 2000

Scottish FSA Letter, 26 September, 2000

Nutrition Labelling of Dietary Fibre

In August 1999 the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department consulted 6n proposals to change the UK's preferred definition and method of analysis of dietary fibre for nutrition labelling purposes. The key proposal was for adoption of AOAC International methodology. The consultation paper also included recommendations for a benchmark intake figure, against which consumers could compare their total dietary intakes; and proposals for revised claims criteria for "source", "increased" and "high" fibre claims

Responsibility for decisions on this and other labelling issues now lies with the Food Standards Agency and a decision, in principle, to recommend AQAC International methodology for nutrition labelling of dietary fibre has now been made. A copy of the new guidance is given below for information.

This guidance has no legal status. It has been produced with the aim of providing informal, non-statutory advice on the labelling of dietary fibre, in the absence of specific provisions in the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended) which implement the provisions of EC Directive 90/496/EEC on nutrition labelling.

There is no intention to revise existing guidance on nutrient content claims at this time. The European Commission now intends to propose harmonised legislation for nutrient content claims by July 2001, and the FSA believe a single change to Community wide rules is the appropriate way forward.

The consultation has raised two issues which require further discussion with interested parties to aid effective application of this new guidance. These are the need for clear advice on use of fibre declarations and for appropriate sources of food composition data for labelling purposes. The Agency will be writing to organisations representing consumers, manufacturers, health professionals and enforcement bodies to arrange a series of meetings to discuss how to deal with these matters.

The initial proposals provided for an 18 month implementation period. This has proved to be a source of considerable concern to many manufacturers and the FSA will consider this further in the light of discussions on the availability of food composition data.


What definition do I use for fibre?

The recommended reference procedure for analysis of dietary fibre is an AOAC International method e.g. 991.43, 997.08. This represents a departure from previous Government advice that the Englyst method be used for the analysis of non-starch polysaccharides for labelling purposes. AOAC International methodology is now widely accepted as the standard analytical technique for the measurement of dietary fibre, and its adoption by UK manufacturers is recommended to ensure consistent labelling of products. Claims for dietary fibre measured by the AOAC International method should not be related to the UK's dietary reference value for non-starch polysaccharides of 18g recommended by Committee on Medical Aspects of Nutrition Policy. Any such claims are likely to be considered to be misleading.

To go to current UK Food Law News page,
click here.
To go to main Food Law Index page, click here.