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Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) are a nutrition facts label that originally began in 1998 as a collaboration between the UK government, the food industry and consumer organizations. The process was overseen by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD). To help consumers make sense of the nutrition information provided on food labels, they translate science into consumer friendly information, providing guidelines on pack that help consumers put the nutrition information they read on a food label into the context of their overall diet.
GDAs are guidelines for healthy adults and children about the approximate amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, total sugars, and sodium/salt. The GDA labels have the percentage of daily value per serving and the absolute amount per serving of these categories. The front-of-packages (FOP) GDAs must at least have calories listed, but the back-of-package (BOP) GDAs must list, at a minimum, these five.
A modified version of the GDA system was adopted by the Australian food and beverage industry in 2006 and called the 'Daily Intake Guide'. In 2009 the original GDA system was adopted as an industry standard in the European Union and in 2012 a variant was adopted in the US and called 'Facts Up Front'.
Since introduction into the world outside the UK there has been controversy on what the GDAs actually show, for example, calculating a personal R.I., which is dependent on a person's height, weight, amount of daily activity and age, an intake rating which is about 5-10% above what that person should actually be eating and drinking. When calculating the GDAs the CIAA uses the average caloric intake needed for women because this best fits the needs of the majority of the population. Women need, on average, between 1800–2200 kilocalories (kcal) a day whereas children need between 1500–2000 kcal and men 2200–2700 kcal. In March 2009, the European Food Safety Authority published its opinion on intake levels for Europe and they were consistent with numbers behind the GDAs developed in the UK.
Moreover, not all categories are equal. While a GDA for calorific intake might represent a broad target in so far as people need to take in a minimum of calories to survive, the GDA for saturated fat is not a target, as ingesting no saturated fats at all would not be harmful to health, so long as there were fats of a non-saturated variety in the diet.
GDAs are now in widespread use across the food industry and appear both on the front and back of food packaging.
In 2014, GDAs were beginning to be replaced by reference intakes.
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