Last week FoodNavigator.com reported on the Stop-GDA campaign, which has been launched by a consortium of health, industry and consumer groups from Denmark. The campaign is calling for Guidance Daily Amounts (GDAs) to be removed from the proposal for new EU food information legislation, as the groups believe the system could mislead consumers and actually worsen childhood obesity.
In a document sent to this website today by the Confederation of Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA), which developed GDAs, the umbrella trade association responds to the criticisms.
It emphasises that GDAs were developed using scientific recommendations from the Eurodiet project, and are not designed to judge whether a food is healthy or not. Rather, “there is a place for all foods within a balanced diet”.
Obesity and individual needs
The CIAA maintains that GDAs can contribute to the fight against obesity by giving clear information on calorie content on packs per serving, and by enabling consumers to make informed choices for themselves and those in their care.
While calorie needs vary according to age and gender, GDAs relate to the widely accepted calorie needs of a moderately active adult woman – that is, 2000 a day.
The space available on packaging means that GDA data sets cannot be included for all demographics, but the association points out that more information sources are available online and in information brochures.
The GDA system has come in for criticism since it gives information on nutrient content by portion size – and consumers may decide to eat more than the amount the manufacturer has deemed to be one portion.
The CIAA says this way of working is more relevant to consumers than 100g/100ml values, and that they can simply multiply the calorie content given for one portion.
Moreover, there is work underway to set out “voluntary, harmonised and realistic set portion sizes” for different foods.
The campaigners has criticised GDA as the reference to sugar bundles natural and added sugar together, setting a GDA of 90g. The World Health Organisation, on the other hand, gives a limit of 50g of added sugar.
However the CIAA says this system is in keeping with the existing EU Nutrition labelling Directive which requires that total sugars be calculated for labelling purposes, and that the human body does not differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars.
Moreover, analytical tools do not differentiate between the two in finished products.
“If the GDA system were based on added sugars only, the GDA would be 0,” says the CIAA. “The total sugars value is the more transparent of the two references and helps consumers to make a decision in line with their daily intake”.
In response to concern that GDAs relate only to negative nutrients, the CIAA said that the scheme is not designed to show vitamin and mineral content – and that more information on these can be found on the nutrition table on packaging.
Moreover, it draws on the findings of the EUFIC study, which found consumers are most interested in information on fat, sugar, salt and calories in nutrition tables. “A majority of consumers were able to use GDAs in order to know the product content and make an appropriate choice.”
The CIAA’s website on GDAs is at http://gda.ciaa.eu
The full arguments against GDAs are give on the campaign’s website at http://stopgda.eu .