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An Evaluation of the Methodological Approaches for the Determination of Different Carbohydrate Fractions in Foods


For nutrition labelling, claims and enforcement purposes, there is a need to accurately quantify the presence of a range of carbohydrates in foods, so as to assist consumers with informed dietary selection and avoid misinterpretation. <P>
A large number of AOAC and other methods for the determination of various fractions of starch, oligosaccharides and dietary fibre are available, some of which are empirical in nature and not well tested. Therefore ‘industry’ and enforcement analysts face difficult analytical choices if they wish to produce data that will withstand critical review. <P>

There is a need to evaluate the specificity, accuracy and reproducibility of individual, as well as combinations of methods, to ensure that reliable and defendable food composition information can be derived by analysts. The high degree of specificity is vital to the enforcement of any associated product claims.<P>

This research project will seek to investigate and prioritise the various methodological approaches to the determination of different carbohydrate fractions, and make recommendations as to the most appropriate methods for labelling, claims and enforcement purposes, fit for the purpose of both ‘industry’ and enforcement analysts.This project will also contribute to discussions currently taking place in Codex regarding the definition of dietary fibre.

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Research Approach: A critical review of different analytical methods used for the determination of carbohydrate fractions with an emphasis on dietary fibre will be carried out. This will include an assessment of different types of innovative carbohydrate ingredients that are available on the market as well as the analytical options for their determination.<P>

Various ingredients and real foods will be selected for testing. Test foods will consist of model foods made from characterised ingredients and of a range of food products to investigate food matrix effects (eg interactions and food specificity effects). Investigation of real foods will help identify discrepancies between direct chemical and empirical methods. Investigations will concentrate on those methods which may be used for components of dietary fibre in foods. <P>

Analysis will be performed on uncooked, cooked, dried and milled samples of starch containing foods and ingredients to identify the extent that resistant starch (RS) values will be affected.<P>

Specific profiles of non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) constituent sugars will be established to identify and authenticate the presence of added polysaccharide extracts. These distinct profiles will enable the source of resistant carbohydrates to be identified and quantified for labelling and/or claims purposes.<P>

All data and information gained during the practical stages of this research project will be used to prepare a guidance document for use by analysts and other stakeholders for determination of various carbohydrates. The document will provide a valuable analytical resource as well as form a reference document.

<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="; target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.

Laboratory of the Government Chemist, UK
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