Elements within the Nutrition Facts table
For labelling purposes, the total amount of declared carbohydrates must include sugars (for example, monosaccharides such as glucose, and disaccharides such as sucrose), starch, dietary fibre, sugar alcohols (for example, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, mannitol, sorbitol, sorbitol syrup, xylitol, erythritol), glycerol and polydextrose.
The amount of carbohydrate may be determined by subtracting the content of protein, fat, ash and moisture from the weight of the product.
The Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products (Health Canada, May 2017) defines dietary fibre as follows:
Dietary fibre consists of:
- carbohydrates with a degree of polymerization of 3 or more that naturally occur in foods of plant origin and that are not digested and absorbed by the small intestine; and
- accepted novel fibres
Novel fibres are ingredients manufactured to be sources of dietary fibre and consist of carbohydrates with a degree of polymerization of 3 or more that are not digested and absorbed by the small intestine. They are synthetically produced or are obtained from natural sources which have no history of safe use as dietary fibre or which have been processed so as to modify the properties of the fibre contained therein. Accepted novel fibres have at least one physiological effect demonstrated by generally accepted scientific evidence.
The substances in part 1 of the definition of dietary fibre as stated in the Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products are all edible plant materials that have a history of use as food and have been processed or cooked using conventional processes. They include fruits, vegetables, pulses, seeds, nuts, cereals, legumes, etc.
Substances in part 2 of the definition include substances obtained from agricultural crop by-products and from raw plant materials, substances of animal or bacterial origin, chemically modified substances, synthetic products, etc. These substances are not historically used as food fibre sources. In addition, novel fibres may also include products used at higher than traditionally used levels in the diet.
There is no regulatory requirement for a Health Canada premarket assessment of novel fibre sources. However, a novel fibre source must be safe for human consumption and must have one recognized fibre physiological effect. Fibre declaration and claims are subject to regulatory oversight and manufacturers and importers must be able to disclose the evidence substantiating the safety and the physiological effect of their novel fibre sources in accordance with Health Canada's Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products.
When a manufacturer or seller voluntarily submits for review a novel fibre information package, an assessment is conducted by the Bureau of Nutritional Sciences of Health Canada's Food Directorate and may result in the issuance of a letter of opinion about the acceptability of the food ingredient as a source of dietary fibre.
Manufacturers who are considering the use of novel fibre sources and require further guidance are advised to contact the Submission Management and Information Unit within the Food Directorate, Health Canada.
A List of dietary fibres reviewed and accepted by Health Canada's Food Directorate is available to help stakeholders in identifying and using brand name products and generic products found acceptable as fibre sources.
For calculating the energy value of dietary fibre, please refer to the energy section.
Dietary fibre analysis
For assessing compliance, CFIA has adopted the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC) 2009.01 method as of April 1st, 2012. Health Canada's Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products also provides a list of acceptable and validated methods that may be used to quantify fibre.
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