Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(10):999-1040
EURRECA explored the process of setting micronutrient recommendations to address the variance in recommendations across Europe. This paper describes the 9 activities of the EURRECA framework for deriving and using dietary reference values for micronutrients focusing on the methods behind each activity. It also contains the tools that can be used to successfully implement each of these activities.
There is no standardised approach for deriving recommended intake levels of micronutrients in Europe. In 2007 the EC-funded Network of Excellence, European Recommendations Aligned (EURRECA) was established as a direct result of the socio-political climate in Europe and tasked with identifying the means by which to align micronutrient recommendations. EURRECA explored the process of setting micronutrient recommendations to address the variance in recommendations across Europe. Work centred upon the transparent assessment of nutritional requirements via a series of systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses. In addition, the necessity of assessing nutritional requirements and the policy context of setting micronutrient recommendations was investigated. EURRECA has outlined what it considers to be the different stages that are core to the process of deriving and using micronutrient recommendations. Each stage consists of two or three activities that those involved in deriving and applying nutrient recommendations need to consider.
More specifically, the nine activities included in the framework were clustered into four stages:
- stage ‘Defining the problem’ describes activities 1 and 2: ‘Identifying the nutrition-related health problem’ and ‘Defining the process’;
- stage ‘Monitoring and evaluating’ describes activities 3 and 7: ‘Establishing appropriate methods’, and ‘Nutrient intake & status of population groups’;
- stage ‘Deriving dietary reference values’ describes activities 4, 5 and 6: ‘Collating sources of evidence’, ‘Appraisal of the evidence’, and ‘Integrating the evidence’;
- stage ‘Using dietary reference values in policy making’ describes activities 8 and 9: ‘Identifying policy options’ and ‘ Evaluating policy implementation’.
These activities provide guidance on how to resolve various issues when deriving micronutrient requirements and address the methodological and policy decisions which may explain the current variation in recommendations across Europe. It is important to note that the different activities can be conducted by different bodies and that the extent to which each stage will be dealt with is dependent on time, resources and information/expertise availability.
The current paper provides the methodological basis for the activities included in the EURRECA framework and contains the tools that can be used to successfully implement each of them. It is expected to add value to the scientific community at large and in particular to the nutrient requirement setting bodies, policy makers and international institutions (EFSA, WHO, FAO) that make use of such scientific information and insights in their work.
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