Tuesday, December 27, 2005

FDA: Barley Products Can Claim Heart Benefits
Cereals, breads and other products containing whole or milled barley grain can now claim to reduce the risk of heart disease, U.S. health officials said Friday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ruling allows companies to immediately begin advertising the benefit on their product packages, which many food makers hope will help boost consumer sales. To qualify, barley-containing foods must provide at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving, the agency said.

Barley is a cereal grain grown mostly in the western United States, as well as in Australia, Canada and other countries, according to the National Barley Foods Council, which first petitioned the FDA for the decision in 2003. While much of the crop is used for animal feed and beer, people can cook pearl barley as a rice-like dish. Barley flour and grains are also used in baking and in cereal.

Like other grains, barley contains fiber that health experts say can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, which can restrict blood flow and lead to chest pain and heart attacks. About 13 million Americans are diagnosed with the condition, according to the American Heart Association.