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Philippines Adopts New Dietary Standards for Prepackaged Processed Foods

On September 7, 2023, the Philippines FDA issued FDA Circular No.2023-009, announcing to adopt the 2015 Philippine Dietary Reference Intakes (PDRI) Percent Recommended Energy Intakes/Recommended Nutrient Intakes (%REI/RNI) as the new dietary standard for all prepackaged processed foods. This move repeals Bureau Circular No. 16 s. 2005, which previously adopted the 2002 Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intakes (RENI) as the dietary standard.

Application scope and purposes 

The circular applies to all prepackaged processed food products. It aims to adopt the 2015 PDRI %REI/RNI for use in food labelling and other pertinent guidelines and regulations of processed food products, as well as WHO recommendation for sodium limit. It also aims to provide guidelines to all Food Business Operators (FBOs) on the use of %REI/RNI.

Major contents

The 2015 PDRI incorporates the latest information and advancements in energy and nutrient requirements. It includes reference values such as Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), Recommended Energy Intake/Recommended Nutrient Intake (REI/RNI), Adequate Intake (AI), Tolerable Upper Intake/Upper Limit (UL), and Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR). Under the new guidelines, the FDA utilizes the REI/RNI prescribed in the 2015 PDRI as the reference standard for nutrition labeling of processed food products, food fortification programs, nutrition advocacy, and the formulation of relevant laws.

This circular also provides specific guidelines for the use of %REI/RNI in the nutrition information of prepackaged processed food products. It requires the statement "Based on PDRI 2015" to be included in the Nutrition Facts/Information of these products. The computation of energy and nutrient levels should be based on caloric requirements for specific age groups and sex, as prescribed by the PDRI. Moreover, the circular emphasizes that the recommended sodium limit shall be based on the WHO Guidelines on Sodium Intake for Adults and Children (2012), as there is no RNI for sodium.

Transition period 

The FDA provides a transition period for affected manufacturers, traders, and distributors of processed food products. Those with Certificates of Product Registration (CPRs) that will be expired within two years from the circular's effectivity need to file a new application complying with the updated standards. Existing stocks of labels on current CPRs may be exhausted within a maximum of six months, subject to FDA’s approval.

To sum up, this update in dietary standards reflects the Philippine government's commitment to ensuring people’s health and well-being by providing accurate and relevant information regarding the nutritional content of prepackaged processed food products, as well as promoting a healthier lifestyle among consumers in the Philippines. Besides, the updated standard aligns with global standards for nutrition labeling.

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