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EU nutrient content calculation guidelines need bolstering

By David Anderson , 07-Apr-2017

EU nutrient content calculation guidelines need bolstering

European calculation guidelines on nutrient content in foods need finessing through training and improved software, so they can be rolled out and accepted by stakeholders, says a new paper.

Currently, the most reliable method of obtaining food nutrient content data is by analysing food in laboratories, but this can be complex, time-consuming and expensive.

An alternative approach is through a calculation method, based on factors such as the amount of ingredients in the food and retention of the ingredients.

To bring harmonisation to the EU, the European Food Information Resource (EuroFIR) has introduced Recipe Calculation Guidelines which aim to provide food businesses with a step-by-step tool to help calculate the nutrient content in foods. 

The guidelines have been publicly available since 2015 and have began to be implemented in the Czech Republic.

Shortcomings

Reviewing the benefits of the calculation method, the authors of the paper found it had several shortcomings, which needed to be rectified so that the Recipe Calculation Guidelines could be adopted without problems through the EU.

In particular, the authors of the paper pointed that the calculation method can be “subject to errors caused by inadequate ingredient data”.

Furthermore, the paper has called for the introduction of comprehensive training to help improve understanding of the calculation procedure, saying that current software tools relating to nutrient composition are limited.

The authors said: “Many users do not appreciate the importance of collection and correct application of input data and limitations of food composition data.

“Targeted and appropriate training is therefore absolutely necessary.”

Translation into national languages

The authors have also called on the guidelines to be translated to national languages, to help with its implementation.

“Our finding indicate that it is very useful to start implementation of the Guideline at national level first by negotiating it with authorities and then to promote it to target audiences,” the authors said.

The authors conclude that should these improvements be made then the calculation method can be successfully used by all stakeholders.

Source: Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.03.103
"EuroFIR Guideline on calculation of nutrient content of foods for food business operators"
Authors: Marie Machackova, Anna Giertlova, Janka Porubska, Mark Roe, Carlos Ramos  and  Paul Finglas