EFSA sets reference intakes for protein

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Thursday, February 16, 2012

The European Food Safety Authority recently released its population reference intakes (PRIs) for protein.

A PRI indicates the amount of an individual nutrient that a majority of a population needs for good health based on age and sex. The release of the protein PRIs marks the completion of the EFSA's latest stage of work on Dietary Reference Values (DRVs).

The PRIs apply to dietary protein from both animal and plant sources. The main sources of protein in European adult diets are meat and meat products, followed by grains/grain-based products and milk/dairy products, according to EFSA's Comprehensive Food Consumption Database.

EFSA's panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies set PRIs for protein for adults, infants and children, and pregnant and breast-feeding women as follows:
  • Adults (including older adults): 0.83 g per kg of body weight per day.
  • Infants, children and adolescents: between 0.83g and 1.31g per kg of body weight per day depending on age.
  • Pregnant women: additional intake of 1g, 9g and 28g per day for the first, second and third trimesters, respectively.
  • Breast-feeding women: additional intake of 19g per day during the first 6 months of lactation and 13g per day thereafter.

The panel found that protein consumption in the European population is adequate for all population groups. Based on collated national food consumption surveys, the average protein intake of adults in Europe is often at or above the PRI of 0.83g per kg of body weight per day (between 67g and 114g per day for men and between 59g and 102g per day for women).

The panel also looked at several health outcomes that may be associated with protein intake - such as bone health, body weight, muscle mass and kidney function - but concluded that the available data were insufficient to derive PRIs based on these health outcomes.

The Scientific Opinion on protein published follows a request from the European Commission for EFSA to update previous European advice on DRVs, taking into account new scientific evidence and recent recommendations issued at national and international level. Previously the Panel has published opinions establishing DRVs for carbohydrates, dietary fibre, fats and water.

This and earlier opinions on DRVs have been adopted by the Panel after consultation with Member States, the scientific community and other stakeholders. The consultations ensure that EFSA benefits from the widest range of information, data and views to finalise the work and provide the most up-to-date, comprehensive advice to EU decision-makers.