FDA finalizes barley health claim  

On May 19, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it finalized a rule allowing foods containing barley to claim that they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. According to the FDA rule, whole grain barley as well as dry milled barley products such as pearled barley kernels, flakes, grits and flour, which provide at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving, may bear the health claim. A sample claim may read:

“Soluble fiber from foods such as [name of food], as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of [name of food] supplies [x] grams of the soluble fiber necessary per day to have this effect.”

According to the FDA, coronary heart disease claims nearly half a million lives a year. High total cholesterol levels and high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are known to increase the risk for heart disease, so consumers are encouraged to keep these levels as low as possible. Scientific evidence indicates that including barley in a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering LDL and total cholesterol levels.

In a statement released by the FDA, Deputy Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said, “FDA is pursuing new initiatives to help consumers improve the choices they have for healthy and nutritious diets. We firmly believe that one of the best ways to encourage healthier eating habits is to help consumers get truthful, up-to-date, science-based information about food products so that they can make choices that are based on a better understanding of the health consequences of their diets.”

The FDA published an interim final rule for the barley health claim in December 2005 and accepted public comments for 75 days following the interim ruling. During that time no comments were received to warrant changes to the interim final rule.