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Nutrition 3701



Lecture 3701-lecture 28


15  November 2010


Dietary Reference Intakes and Food Labelling Debates


Dietary Reference Intakes


Joint efforts of Canadian and American experts –intended to replace recommended nutrient intakes (RNIs)(Canada) and recommended dietary allowances(RDA)(USA)


Panels consist of experts on each nutrient are responsible for:

-reviewing the scientific literature concerning the specific nutrients are under study for each aspect of the lifespan


-considering the roles of nutrients in decreasing risk of chronic and other diseases and conditions


-evaluating possible criteria or indicators of adequacy and providing substantive rationales for choice of each criterion


-interpreting the current data on intakes in North American population


-estimating the average requirement for each nutrient or food component renewed




                        Upper Reference Levels


-utilises risk assessment for estimating tolerable upper levels of nutrients at which there would be little or nor risk of toxicity or adverse effects


-assist the panels in applying the models to each nutrient or food component reviewed


Uses and Interpretations of the DRIs provides guidance for:


-appropriate application of DRIs for assessing the intakes of individuals and groups


-appropriate application of DRIs in planning diets for individuals and groups


            -other nutrient specific applications


Components of DRIs

-four values instead of one:

EAR-estimated average requirement-50 % chance of meeting requirement for a given nutrient for the individual-done by assessing groups for which scientific studies are required-exists for vitamin C for example

                  RDA-goal for the individual

New RDAs are not interchangeable with the RNIs currently used in Canada-although the same framework (EAR +2 SD) was used to derived RNIs there was often little data from which the nutrient requirements could be assessed and often the RNIs represented an informed judgement about what seemed to be an adequate intake

AI-Adequate Intake-used as goal for a person (~RDA)-if cannot assess groups must use AI-exists for calcium for example-used desirable daily calcium retention for setting AI- retention is classically measured as calcium balance(Intake-Losses) and assumes what is retained is in the bones though one can now measure bone mineral content

AI for calcium(male and female aged 19-30) is based on retention of 10-50 mg/day based on old balance studies current AI is 1200 mg/day -greater amounts required in those over 50 years of age due to less calcium absorption

AI-does not bear a consistent relationship to the EAR or RDA because it is set without being able to estimate the requirement and as such cannot be placed on the EAR or RDA.

UL-Upper tolerable Intake Level-assigned to many nutrients-a measure of toxicity-often based on case reports and not studies-refers to sustained intake and not a single doses (Magnesium is the exception)-2 grams/day for vitamin C and 2.5 grams per day for calcium

RDA=EAR + 2SD=very small risk of deficiency for a given nutrient for a given person-vitamin C RDA is 90 mg/day for men and 75 mg/day for women- smokers need an additional 35 mg/day (all values are averages)

Energy RDA=EAR

DRIs apply to healthy people

Average intake for a person over a period of time- not the intake for a given day

What is food labelling?


Main focus of current debate on non-genetically modified foods is what information is of significance to health of consumer and how to best get that information to the consumer

Education and Research



Many foods currently provide nutrition labelling. However the information is often difficult to find, is inconsistent in its presentation and is sometimes hard to read. A consistent look promotes legibility and readability and makes the information easier to find, understand and use.

The Label After....

The move to new and improved nutrition labelling includes:

         A new title:  Nutrition Facts

         The serving size on which nutrient information is based will be more consistent.

         The information includes an expanded list of nutrients.

         A standardized format that is bold, clear and easy to read.

         The look will be consistent from product to product.

         Nutrient information is more clearly identified.

         The Daily Value gives a context to the actual amount.  It indicates if there is a lot or a little of the nutrient in a serving of food.

English new label

English Label (22Kb)

Bilingual new label

Bilingual Label (22Kb)



Easier to find, more complete, on more foods.






Proposals for nutrient content claims

            -amount of nutrient in a food

-proposed that there be regulation of compositional criteria and specific labelling requirements for all permitted nutrient claims

-proposed to regulate compositional criteria for nutrient content claims based on standardised reference patterns for a given food

criteria now being established for:

calories-calorie free, low in calories, reduced or lower in calories, source of calories

            protein-source of protein, excellent source of protein, more protein

fat-fat free, low in fat, reduced or lower in fat, 100 % fat free, naming the percentage fat free

saturated fatty acids-saturated fatty acid free, low in saturated fatty acids reduced or lower in saturated fatty acids

trans-fatty acids-free of trans fatty acids reduced or lower in trans fatty acids

polyunsaturated fatty acids- source of omega 3 fatty acids or source of omega 6 fatty acids

cholesterol-cholesterol free, low in cholesterol,  reduced or lower in cholesterol

sodium-sodium-free or salt free, low in sodium or salt, reduced or lower in sodium or salt, no added sodium or salt, lightly salted

sugars-sugar-free,  reduced or lower in sugar, no added sugar

fibre-source of fibre, high source of fibre, very high source of fibre, more fibre

light- reduced in energy or reduced in fat



Proposals for diet related health claims

                                    Potassium sodium and reduced risk of high blood pressure

Calcium, vitamin D and regular physical activity and reduced risk of osteoporosis

Saturated and trans fats and reduced risk of heart disease

Fruits and vegetables and reduced risk of some times of cancer

Sugar alcohols and dental caries


 Food labelling debates for genetically modified foods

            Main focus of debate is on what the label should contain and to what extent such labelling would affect trade of genetically modified food



Globe and Mail Update

A government-appointed advisory body argued Monday against imposing mandatory labelling on producers of genetically modified (GM) food, saying that it may be too costly and could cause trade battles.

Instead, the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee said, a voluntary system should be implemented for at least five years, but only after an "agreed-upon standard" for GM content can be established.

"We recommend that it be evaluated in five years," a hefty report (pdf) suggests to Industry Minister Allan Rock, convenor of the Biotechnology Ministerial Coordinating Committee, "to determine whether it gives consumers sufficient choice concerning the foods they purchase and, if not, that alternatives, including mandatory labelling, be considered."

One of the 20 members of the committee, Anne Mitchell, executive director of the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy , "strongly" disagreed, the report acknowledges. The report says that Ms. Mitchell proposed instead moving immediately to a mandatory system, and that she noted that the majority of those reacting to the committee's interim report had also urged a mandatory system.

While the report urges the government to implement a series of recommendations aimed at bolstering public confidence in GM food, they stressed in a letter released to the public that there is no evidence that the foods "pose any greater health or environmental risk than other foods in the marketplace."

The group — which has long been criticized by anti-GM campaigners as a tool of industry and government — acknowledges that its views are not universally accepted. "Positions are polarized," they said, between those who believe that modification raises the prospect of benefit to both farmer and consumer and those who believe it poses an unacceptable, and unknown, risk to mankind and the planet.

"The fact that there are divergent views on such a complex issue is not surprising," the report argues. "Nor should it be a reason for failure to take action that is in the public interest — namely, to capture the benefits of biotechnological innovation while providing reasonable protection against potential harms."


The group urged that:

  • Ottawa designate someone to oversee government communication about GM foods,
  • federal regulators be more transparent,
  • long-term research be conducted into GM and other "novel organisms" in the food chain,
  • research into the environmental impact of GM crops be examined.

Despite these recommendations, the committee stuck fast to its belief that GM foods are not known to pose any appreciable risk to mankind.

"Research and development of GM organisms has been taking place for nearly 30 years with no evidence as yet of harm to human health or the environment," the report says.

But it then adds the caveat: "Nevertheless, we urge an examination of existing standards to ensure that such research is conducted in a precautionary manner."