A database of every micronutrient recommendation set by individual European Union member states is to be made available online for the first time.
The information in the database has been collected by EURRECA, a research network founded in January 2007 by the European Commission with a remit to calculate continent-wide recommended daily intakes for essential nutrients based on sound science.
The Commission established EURRECA amid concerns that the wildly differing recommendations across EU member states were causing confusion for policymakers, health professionals and consumers. The project is drawing on the expertise of scientists and research institutes across Europe to arrive at recommended intake levels that could be applied across the continent.
Next year EURRECA will submit its proposals to the European Food Safety Authority, which is set to begin a review of the EU's current nutrient intake guidance, which was established back in 1993. But before then, it is to make public details of RDIs set by national authorities in all 27 of the EU's member states. The database will be published on EURRECA's website — http://www.eurreca.org/everyone — at the end of September.
The database will paint a fascinating picture of the patchwork of differing advice on nutrient intakes that bedevils Europe. Christophe Matthys, project coordinator at EURRECA, promised it would be a comprehensive information resource available for anyone to use. "It will contain more than 16,000 recommendations," he said. "All the micronutrients are in there."
Matthys explained that EURRECA was looking to arrive at new EU-wide recommendations that were based purely on science. In some countries, he said, national advice was often based simply on the views of eminent nutrition experts, which could sometimes be colored by personal opinion.
"Currently the recommendations across Europe are so different," he said. "There is no clear procedure or guidance on how to set dietary recommendations and they are not always based on pure science as they should be. The exercise that EURRECA is undertaking will be evidenced-based rather than eminence-based."