MINNEAPOLIS -- Having fiber on the label of a food product sends a positive, healthful signal to consumers, but often results in a technical challenge. Most fiber ingredients cause significant changes in the texture, viscosity and appearance when added in appreciable amounts. When Tropicana Products, Bradenton, Fla., developed its fiber- fortified orange juice, called Pure Premium Plus, it found the answer to this dilemma by using hydrolyzed guar gum.
Sandoz Nutrition Corp. here makes and markets this ingredient under the BeneFiber trademark. It is a natural water soluble dietary vegetable fiber extracted from partially hy-
drogenated guar gum in a proprietary process. Guar gum is a common food stabilizer produced from the seed of a legume. The colorless and flavorless fiber does not affect the natural texture, flavor or color of liquid or solid food products.
Soluble fiber has been shown in a number of studies to generate several benefits. These include reducing cholesterol levels, the incidence of heart disease and hypertension, as well as controlling blood glucose levels. While these specific claims are not allowed on the label by the Food and Drug Administration, the publicity that many of these studies have garnered has generated consumer awareness that fiber is "good for you."
FDA does allow companies to flag products when they contain a certain level of fiber, such as Tropicana's fortified juice's label claim of "A good source of dietary fiber." To use this claim or similar declarations ("Source of fiber," "Contains fiber"), the National Labeling and Education Act requires 3 grams of dietary fiber per 8-ounce product serving. For claims of "High fiber" or "Excellent source of fiber," the level of dietary fiber per 8-ounce serving jumps to 5 grams. In a beverage, this means that approximately 1% to 2% of the product will consist of fiber. While this level might go unnoticed in a breakfast cereal or muffin, in beverages most fiber ingredients would produce unacceptable changes in the finished products.
"With BeneFiber, you won't see any effect at the levels normally used for fiber fortification," said Robert Kolb, general manager of Sandoz' industrial products division. "For example, 20% is well above the 5-gram level, but adding that much BeneFiber, the consistency is still like water. Many companies report that higher levels do not affect the finished product, but they only want to add enough to make their label claim."
Because the ingredient is water-soluble, normal usage levels do not affect the clarity of beverages or similar products. According to the manufacturer, studies have shown that partially hydrolyzed guar is stable under high heat conditions such as retorting and aseptic processing and under acidic conditions. These are frequently encountered in beverages, especially fruit types. It dissolves well in cold water, making it dispersible under a wide range of manufacturing conditions. Since hydrolyzed guar is a soluble fiber, FDA requires that it carry a calorie content of 4 calories per gram.