Health Canada approves Beneo Inulin as dietary fiber
fiber, allowing manufacturers to advertise higher fiber content on
food labels and opening the way for other brands to seek go-ahead.
Beneo is one of the first inulin ingredients recognized as a source of dietary fibre in Canada. While fiber sources such as inulin, resistant starches or fructooligosaccharides have approved health claims in the US, they face a safety approval gauntlet north of the border because they are highly processed or not traditionally used in foods. This means formulators cannot list these ingredients on nutrition labels.
Health Canada's approval of Orafti Active Food Ingredients' proprietary inulin thus represents a ray of hope for other fiber ingredients makers awaiting approval in Canada, as well as a potential increase in sales associated with this.
Derived from chicory root, Beneo inulin is a mixture of oligo- and polysaccharides. It is a white, odourless, soluble powder with a slightly sweet taste and no aftertaste, according to the company.
Including inulin under the umbrella of dietary fiber could help bridge the consumption gap in fiber. Health Canada recommends at least 25 grams of dietary fiber per day. But the 2003 Ontario Food Survey, conducted in the country's most populated province, found it likely that on average Canadian consume only 15-19 grams per day.
But as people become more educated about nutrition they are looking for sources of dietary fiber, such as inulin, on labels and therefore Health Canada's approval is a positive step forward, according to John Michaelides, director of technical services with the Guelph Food Technology Centre in Canada.
In the past, industry sources have denounced Health Canada's definition of dietary fiber as restricting innovation or new fiber ingredients from making it to supermarket shelves.
Inulin is associated with promoting bone and gut health, the latter owing to its prebiotic properties. While the need for more fiber in North American diets has been widely publicized, Canada has historically blocked the use of ingredients that could bring fiber to foods in an appealing way to consumers.
Beneo inulin has application benefits in that it can be used to enhance creamy or mousse products. ORAFTI suggests Health Canada's approval is going to spell better business for it.
"The Canadian food industry was waiting for this in order to reactivate many projects of new products," said Dominic Speleers, Orafti vice president of sales & marketing.
Since 1985, Health Canada's definition of dietary fiber has been: "Endogenous components of plant material in the diet which are resistant to digestion by enzymes produced by man. They are predominantly non-starch polysaccharides and lignin and may include, in addition, associated substances."
In Canada, fiber applications are approved on a lengthy case-by-case basis and are often tied to the specific brand. Unlike the health claims approval process in the US which is based on the type of ingredient, rather than brand, and thus is more wide-sweeping.