On defining dietary fibre

Proc Nutr Soc. 2003 Feb;62(1):37-43. doi: 10.1079/PNS2002234.


Establishing a definition for dietary fibre has historically been a balance between nutrition knowledge and analytical method capabilities. While the most widely accepted physiologically-based definitions have generally been accurate in defining the dietary fibre in foods, scientists and regulators have tended, in practice, to rely on analytical procedures as the definitional basis in fact. As a result, incongruities between theory and practice have resulted in confusion regarding the components that make up dietary fibre. In November 1998 the president of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) appointed an expert scientific review committee and charged it with the task of reviewing and, if necessary, updating the definition of dietary fibre. The committee was further charged with assessing the state of analytical methodology and making recommendations relevant to the updated definition. After due deliberation, an updated definition of dietary fibre was delivered to the AACC Board of Directors for consideration and adoption (Anon, 2000; Jones 2000b). The updated definition includes the same food components as the historical working definition used for approximately 30 years (a very important point, considering that the majority of the research of the past 30 years delineating the positive health effects of dietary fibre is based on that working definition). However, the updated definition more clearly delineates the make-up of dietary fibre and its physiological functionality. As a result, relatively few changes will be necessary in analytical methodology. Current methodologies, in particular AACC-approved method of analysis 32-05 (Grami, 2000), Association of Official Analytical Chemists' official method of analysis 985.29 (Horwitz, 2000a) or AACC 32-07 (Grami, 2000) Association of Official Analytical Chemists 991.43 (Horwitz, 2000a) will continue to be sufficient and used for most foods. A small number of additional methods will be necessary to quantify the dietary fibre levels in foods containing fibres such as fructans (polymers and oligomers of fructose, inulin), modified dextrins, and/or synthetic dietary fibre analogues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / standards
  • Dietary Fiber / analysis*
  • Dietary Fiber / standards
  • Food Analysis / methods
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Lignin / analysis
  • Societies / organization & administration


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Lignin