EFSA backs non-digestible carbs for sugar reduction

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Roquette: “...this is recognition of how Nutriose is being metabolised by the body and gives us credibility with our customers.”
Roquette: “...this is recognition of how Nutriose is being metabolised by the body and gives us credibility with our customers.”

Related tags Carbohydrate Starch Glucose Snack

EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has delivered positive opinions for two non-digestible carbohydrate ingredients based on their ability to improve blood glucose response.

The article 13.5 ruling by the agency’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), found the glycaemic effect could be claimed when replacing part of a product’s sugar content with Roquette’s Nutriose 06 resistant dextrin or Olygose’s AlphaGOS oligosaccharide.

This is the second positive opinion Roquette has received for Nutriose 06. Last summer, the French firm was given the thumbs up for a claim that Nutriose could help tooth mineralisation when replacing fermentable carbohydrates.

“We are extremely proud that for the second time, EFSA has recognised the clinical research we are carrying out on our ingredients. It is very reassuring and gives us the confidence to move forward with other claims and new ingredients,”​ Sophie Chesnoy, global product manager, Nutriose, told NutraIngredients.

Six supporting studies

Roquette submitted six human studies, conducted in different regions (Europe, Canada, India and China) in support of its applications. Interestingly, though, EFSA wrote in its opinion: “The Panel could have reached this conclusion without the human studies”​, and made a similar statement in the opinion it delivered for Olygose’s AlphaGOS.

EFSA suggests that the key to a successful application in both cases was proving that the ingredients in question could be classified as non-digestible carbohydrates.

In the opinion delivered for Nutriose, the agency wrote: “The Panel notes that the main characteristic of Nutriose 06 which contributes to the claimed effect is the non-digestibility of the resistant dextrin contained in Nutriose 06 in the small intestine, and that replacing digestible (glycaemic) carbohydrates by any non-digestible carbohydrate would contribute to the claimed effect.”

Although this assessment appears to refute any claims of unique functionality for Nutriose 06, it was welcomed by Roquette, who said: “thisis recognition of how Nutriose is being metabolised by the body and gives us credibility with our customers.”

The NDA also said the opinion applied to “non-digestible carbohydrates (eg non-starch polysaccharides, resistant oligosaccharides and resistant starch), which should replace glycaemic carbohydrates in foods and beverages in order to obtain the claimed effect”.

Applicable to all non-digestible carbs

This seems to suggest that the article 13.5 claim can be used for any non-digestible carbohydrate. As Chesnoy said: “If you can demonstrate that your ingredient falls within the definition of a non-digestible carbohydrate, you can refer to the opinion.”

She added: “We think there will be a general recognition that non-digestible carbohydrates are recognised as low glycaemic index (GI).”

In January of this year EFSA assessed a claim on non-digestible carbohydrates and reduction of post-prandial response submitted by BENEO, Sensus and Cosucra Groupe Warcoing for their chicory-derived inulin and fructo-oligosaccharide ingredients, with a favourable outcome.

In the two latest opinions, the agency refers back to this evaluation for conditions of use and proposed wording, saying: “The Panel considers that the outcome, including the proposed wording and the conditions of use, of the previous evaluation on the replacement of sugars with non-digestible carbohydrates applies to the replacement of all glycaemic carbohydrates with non-digestible carbohydrates.”

This means that as previously stipulated by the NDA, 30% replacement is necessary to carry the claim: “Consumption of foods/drinks containing non-digestible carbohydrates instead of sugars induces a lower blood glucose rise after meals compared to sugar-containing foods/drinks”.


Sugar reduction context

These positive verdicts for what are effectively sugar replacers sit snugly with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) sugar reduction agenda.

“This claim is particularly interesting in the context of an evolving global regulatory context, in which sugar reduction is a major concern. The WHO is very concerned by the high levels of sugar in food and drinks, which contribute to oral health issues and the prevalence of diabetes,”​ said Chesnoy.

But the push to replace sugar isn’t just rooted in public policy; Chesnoy said there was a strong trend from industry, driven by innovation and marketing, towards low-glycaemic carbohydrates.

“We know there are companies searching for such carbohydrates,”​ she said.

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