Dietary reference values (DRVs) are nutrient recommendations and reference values which set out population reference intakes, average requirements, adequate intake level and lower threshold intake. They are used in diet assessment and planning, and have an important role to play in nutritional labelling of food and beverage products.
Nutritional labelling is high on the European agenda at the moment as new regulations that will set out mandatory information to appear on packs is under hot debate. The common system adopted could bear a resemblance to the industry’s preferred model, which gives content of nutrients as a percentage of recommended daily maximums.
The European Commission asked EFSA to review population reference intakes for nutrients since the last DRVs were drawn up in 1993, and there has been considerable research in this area since then.
EFSA’s panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies has concluded that intake of carbs should make up between 45 and 60 per cent of total energy intake.
However it decided not to give recommendations for sugar – either total or added – since there is still insufficient data available. It did recognize that there is some evidence that high intakes of sugars (more than 20 per cent of energy) may increase serum triglyceride and cholesterol concentrations, that sugary drinks might contribute to weight gain, and eating a lot of sugary foods could increase risk of dental caries.
It was not able to draw firm conclusions about the role of glycaemic index or glycaemic load in weight management and diet-related illness prevention, as a link is “still inconclusive”, it says.
Fat intake should make up between 20 and 35 per cent of total energy intake, the panel said; trans- and saturated fat intake should be “kept as low as possible”.
As for dietary fibre, it is confident that 25g a day are sufficient for normal bowel function in adults.
The draft DVRs for carbohydrates (including sugar), fibre and fats published this week are the first part of this work. Part two, covering micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is due next year.
The consultation on the macronutrients is open until 15 October, and more information is available here.
A meeting with nutrition experts from EU member states is also planned on 7 and 8 September.