A new EU-approved health claim for fructose-containing foods and scientific backing of glycaemic index (GI) information on food packaging are the latest signs of a perfect storm of science around low-GI diets, says CEO of Taura Natural Ingredients Peter Dehasque.
GI is a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise after eating certain foods, and a group of leading scientists recently urged inclusion of GI in national dietary guidelines and on food labels. Fructose has the lowest GI of all natural sugars, at 19, while glucose has the highest possible GI of 100.
However, the concept is still poorly understood by many consumers, even though it is gaining traction with nutrition experts and regulators – as well as a growing group of diabetic consumers. In the EU, fructose-containing foods can now carry a health claim that they lead to a lower blood glucose rise, as long as fructose is used to reduce sucrose or glucose in a product by at least 30%.
“It is quite evident that many consumers do not understand this today,” Dehasque told FoodNavigator. “It needs a much better driven campaign from all sides to increase awareness.”
The company is promoting its range of fruit ingredients to provide food manufacturers with an opportunity to tap into widespread awareness of the importance of fruit, while also increasing consumer knowledge of GIs. For example, Dehasque said that formulating a cereal bar with fruit ingredients and low-GI grains could produce a bar with a GI as low as 45, while many cereal bars might normally have a GI as high as 70 or 80.
“We’re witnessing a perfect storm of science demonstrating both that low GI diets are beneficial and that some fruit ingredients are low GI foods,” he said.
Presenting GI information in an easy-to-understand format is crucial to improving awareness, he said.
“’Slow releasing energy’ is a message that people understand. Blood glucose management is something that people are starting to buy into.”
He added that simple graphics might also be useful on-pack tools to explain GI.
Taura makes a range of fruit ingredients through a proprietary process called ultra-rapid concentration (URC), which concentrates heat-sensitive fruits to very low moisture levels in less than a minute. The flakes, pieces or pastes can be used in cereal bars, breakfast cereals, confectionery and baked goods, or as snack products in themselves.