At long last, FDA has provided guidance on many dietary fibers. To be clear, the FDA announcement covers about 70–75 percent of common dietary fibers in use today, so more work needs to be done.
I say finally, because the resolution of this issue has been unnecessarily delayed by FDA for reasons that are still unclear. It is important to note, that after decades of dietary fiber not being an issue up for debate, the FDA, under pressure from the Obama White House, decided to redefine dietary fiber. The American Bakers Association (ABA) has been aggressively working to fix this situation ever since.
Working with both bakers and fiber suppliers, ABA initially tried working with FDA to rectify this situation to little avail. When this gentle pressure failed, ABA was forced to file a citizen’s petition seeking the restoration of the definition of dietary fiber. When FDA stalled in its review of the petition, ABA worked with its allies on Capitol Hill to make progress. I have often shaken my head at the financial and political capital ABA had to leverage on what seemingly should have been a quick fix.
Throughout the process, FDA alternatively claimed that ABA either didn’t understand the issues around fiber or that there were no issues to understand. Ironically, the FDA response to ABA’s petition completely misstated key elements of the petition, not the least was the basis for why ABA was so aggressively pushing for relief. What FDA failed to realize is that during the extended time it took for them to correct their mistake, bakers and dietary fiber suppliers were challenged to provide American families with nutritious high-fiber breads, rolls, crackers and cereals.
At the end of the day, the wheels of government finally turned, and FDA has started to correct itself. It does make one wish, however, that we could apply a little dietary fiber to the process.