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An introduction: Evolution and finalisation of the regulatory definition of dietary.

Phillips, G.O. and Cui, S.W. (2010). "An introduction: Evolution and finalisation of the regulatory definition of dietary.", Food Hydrocolloids, 25(2), pp. 139-143. doi : 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2010.04.011  Access to full text

Abstract

It is more than 56 years since Hipsley (1953) first used the term dietary fibre for the non-digestible constituents of plant cell walls and more than 30 years since (Trowell, 1972) and (Trowell, 1974) adopted the term and suggested a definition for “dietary fibre”. Since this time there has been no accepted international regulatory definition until Codex adopted a final definition in its 2009 meeting. The sequence of these protracted discussions and consequential evolving views about dietary fibre regulatory definitions are here reviewed. The breakthrough came in the 2008 meeting of Codex when an FAO Expert Group forced the assembled countries to accept a quite different definition from the one which had been discussed and amended year after year for very many years without gaining full acceptance. The final 2009 definition represents a considerable modification from previous drafts and required compromises from FAO who did not press its proposal that dietary fibre should be defined only as intrinsic plant cell wall polysaccharides. The final outcome was heavily influenced by the EC who, frustrated at the lack of progress, had issued its own Directive on the subject (2008). The USA were still not in favour of the final decision but did not succeed in holding up the discussions again in the 2009 meeting of Codex which decided upon the following definition: Dietary fibre means carbohydrate polymers with ten or more monomeric units which are not hydrolysed by the endogenous enzymes in the small intestine of humans and belong to the following categories: edible carbohydrate polymers naturally occurring in the food as consumed; carbohydrate polymers, which have been obtained from food raw material by physiological, enzymic or chemical means and which have been shown to have a physiological effect of benefit to health as demonstrated by generally accepted scientific evidence to competent authorities; synthetic carbohydrate polymers which have been shown to have a physiological effect of benefit to health as demonstrated by generally accepted scientific evidence to competent authorities. Footnote 1: on lignin etc - this is pending adoption of Methods of Analysis and Sampling.Footnote 2: Decision on whether to include carbohydrates with monomeric units from 3 to 9 should be left to national authorities. The recommended methods of analysis to comply with this definition are also now in the finalisation stage. A review of the available and recommended methods has now been prepared by Codex (2009). These new developments place a more certain regulatory base to the commercial application for bioactive carbohydrate products. This paper describes the sequence and input of countries to the debate about the definition of dietary fibre and how eventually final agreement was achieved.

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