This month Ruth discusses the science of nutritional analysis
See the full article below or view online in the Sept edition here.
Nutritional Analysis – A Complex Science
Recently I was fortunate to attend the British Dietetic Association’s Food Services specialist group study day on Nutritional Analysis and Food Labelling. There was a good turnout of dietitians, hospital catering managers, and industry professionals. Speakers included a consumer who regularly checks food labels to make informed choices; a Renal Dietitian from an esteemed London hospital; the Global Quality and Technical Director of an international laboratory firm; the Technical Manager and Company Dietitian of a healthcare food manufacturer; and an independent Public Health Nutritionist who was part of the team of researchers who updated the latest edition of McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods.
As a leading food manufacturer in the healthcare market, we have a responsibility to ensure our nutritional analysis methods and systems are up to date and that the nutritional declarations we make against our products are accurate. As discussed on the day, there are a variety of accepted methods to achieve this. For us, this means using data from McCance and Widdowson’s 7th edition dataset where this is a good representation of the ingredients we use. Where it is not, we use supplier data, and where we have a query or want to validate our declarations we also use laboratory analysis.
What the speakers on the day confirmed, is that each accepted method has benefits and limitations, and that it is not an exact science. It was reassuring to know that as manufacturers we all face the same challenges and are using the same resources to ensure we get it right.
On another note, legislation continues to evolve, and from 20th July the local provision in the UK to use the term NGCI (no gluten containing ingredients) has been removed and now falls under the framework of the Food Information Regulations. This may have implications for some hospital menus, the outcome of which we are waiting to hear.