When you think of fiber, what foods come to mind?
Hopefully images of fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grains pop up, but it wouldn’t be surprising if what you’re imagining are the notorious “Fiber One” bars or cereals that line the shelves of our grocery stores.
In Allison Aubrey’s article published on the National Public Radio’s website, she addresses the current controversy between naturally fiber-filled foods and those foods that have had processed, isolated fibers added to them. The predicament at hand? That is currently being addressed by the FDA to determine whether foods with added dietary fiber such as pastas, granola bars, cereals, etc., should be allowed to be printed on Nutritional Fact Labels because they do not contain the natural fiber properties and nutrients that come with it. All in all, the FDA is arguing that the nutritional deficiencies of such food can not be covered up by adding isolated fibers to the already processed foods, and why should they?!
Why is this such a controversy you may ask? The answer lies in the Food Industry’s marketing tactics surrounding fiber. Of course we know that an apple is always the healthy way to go when looking for a fiber-rich snack, but how are those health behaviors going to be effected when food labels showcase foods like Del Monte Fruit Cups or Fruit Snacks (which contain added fiber such as cellulose that cannot be digested) as having “no added sugar” and being “high in fiber?” We can probably assume that parents are going to purchase the less expensive and nutrient lacking product because of that marketing tool. Think about it. What fruit or vegetable has a sign or sticker on it touting its fiber content? Not one – but sugar dense cereals can boast about theirs? Something is wrong with this picture. Luckily the FDA is tackling this debate full force and we can be hopeful that if the outcome sways in support of the Food & Drug Administration, other nutrition-based controversies will be addressed in the future as well.