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The effects of soluble dietary fiber “Health claims are vital”

Published: 06-09-2016, | Member: Matsutani Chemical Industry

From modulating glucose levels to managing weight, soluble fiber can help in many ways, according to Matsutani Chemical Industry Company. In its home country, Japan, their ingredient range, FIBERSOL, is well-recognized and widely used. “Our goal is to achieve similar status in Europe.”

Matsutani, Japan’s leading producer of specialty food starches and dextrins, considers itself a pioneer. “Our company is continuously searching for innovations, such as applications in Foods for Specified Health USE (FOSHU)”, says Shigenobu Umano, Sales Representative for the Europe Middle East & Africa (EMEA) market. Founded in 1919, the company develops, manufactures and sells, together with some partner companies, a variety of food starches and derivatives, including dietary fiber, several maltodextrins and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, Since 1972, for example, Matsutani has been working closely with AVEBE in the importing and sales of modified-starch products.

“Dietary fiber is known to be very important for gastrointestinal functions and research suggests it has positive effects on blood glucose and triglyceride levels”, says Umano. “It could also contribute to a healthy composition of the intestinal microbiota.” Other possible benefits include satiety-enhancement and improving the risk factors of metabolic syndrome; both are important in the prevention of obesity.

Low fiber intake
Around the world, consumers in industrialized countries tend to consume processed foods that contain little or no dietary fiber. “In the US, the current Daily Reference Value (DRV) for total dietary fiber is 25g per day (from a typical 2,000 calorie per day diet). More than 75 percent of the adults in the USA do not meet the DRV”, illustrates Umano. “On average, they consume less than 50 percent.” In Europe and Japan too, the majority of consumers’ fiber intake is inadequate.

Good reason for Matsutani, whose founding vision was to support a rich dietary life and help people become ‘healthier and happier’, to focus its current innovation strategy on ingredients to help people increase their fiber intake to healthier levels.

A key product is FIBERSOL, a line of low-viscosity, soluble, dietary fibers, derived from natural cornstarch (resistant dextrins / maltodextrins) and marketed B2B since the early 1990s. “Food manufacturers can use it to increase the fiber content of their products without compromising product taste, flavor and texture.” It is not only a simple powder fiber supplement, but also an ingredient suitable for a wide variety of food products, from cereals and bakery products to dairy and beverages.

Research on FIBERSOL-2
Matsutani, who collaborates with different universities and research institutes worldwide, recently published a number of high-impact papers on the effects of dietary fiber. One paper, published June 2015 in Nature, revealed how soluble dietary fiber affects glucose and cholesterol metabolism, enhancing the effect on glucose homeostasis in mice along with some changes in metabolomics profiling. Another paper, published October 2015 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrated that soluble dietary fiber reduced colonic transit time and also positively affected stool volume and consistency in 66 healthy volunteers after a 21-day intake.

In Japan, FIBERSOL is well-recognized and popular for its positive health benefits. “The first health claim approved by the Japanese FOSHU authority, using Fibersol-2, was approved back in 1992, followed by other claims soon after. In Japan, currently, three claims are allowed for the product; improvement of intestinal regularity; moderation of postprandial blood glucose levels and moderation of postprandial blood triglyceride levels. “These health claims have been reviewed by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and accepted by the Consumer Affairs Agency.”

“FIBERSOL was also confirmed as ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in 1990. “In the US, it has been marketed and used in many supplements, foods and beverages since then”, says Umano.

Exploring Europe
Matsutani aims to get its health claims approved in Europe, too. “The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) guidelines differ from those of FOSHU”, says Umano. “The fact that the Japanese studies we submitted were not considered in the evaluation process of our previous EFSA applications, ended up having a negative impact on the result.”

The road towards health-claim approval in Europe may be long, but Umano feels confident about the future. “Step by step, we are building a dossier that will convince EFSA”, says Umano. “Once our health claim has been approved, the road will be open and clear for soluble dietary fiber to become as popular in Europe as it is in Japan now.”

Matsutani Chemical Industry