Developing micronutrient reference values: prioritization of tool development by the EURRECA Network of Excellence

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Objectives:The EURRECA Network of Excellence is developing standardized methods that will guide the alignment of micronutrient reference values (RVs) across Europe. A consultation process to identify and prioritize the best practice, ‘tools’ or guidance for EURRECA was undertaken.Subjects/Methods:A questionnaire was sent to 90 individuals with experience of setting or using RVs. Respondents were asked to rank the usefulness of each type of possible guidance.Results:In all, 52% of individuals returned completed questionnaires. For the planning process, the most needed guidance was on the best way to assess the ‘status quo’ of RVs; what to cover, setting priorities, how to take into consideration the diverse needs of the users; and making the whole process transparent. The most needed guidance for the active stage of development was how to obtain valid and robust data on intakes and status to use as a base for RVs; how to account for food-related factors; how to incorporate results of systematic reviews; how to identify unbiased and independent reviews and make decisions if evidence is conflicting; methods to ‘weight’ the evidence; and formats or concepts to convert scientific requirements into RVs. Users of RVs required guidance on communication, codes of practice to raise professional and public awareness, making them easy to use in the intended way.Conclusions:The questionnaire responses provided views from a wide range of experts on the most needed ‘tools’ and standardized methodologies for the process of reviewing micronutrient RVs. This will help the EURRECA Network of Excellence to prioritize resources.

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