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Review of Diet Standards Dropped

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Washington--The National Academy of Sciences announced last week that it would not issue proposals to alter the government's recommended daily dietary requirements for vitamins and minerals.

The announcement cited disagreements within the panel of nas scientists studying the dietary requirements as reasons for the change.

The announcement came in the wake of published reports that the academy's study would suggest lowering the recommended daily allowances (rda's) of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, and iron, while raising that for calcium. The reports sparked controversy among scientists and public-interest groups, who charged that the new rda's could be used to provide less food in institutional settings, change the evaluations of the adequacy of the diet of the U.S. population, and "prove" that fewer people are malnourished. (See Education Week, Oct. 2, 1985.)

The government standard for the daily intake of nutrients needed for good health is currently used in menus for all federal food-assistance programs, including school-lunch programs. The academy, chartered by the Congress in 1863, has studied and revised the rda's about every five years since 1943.

A letter issued last week by Frank Press, chairman of the academy's national research council, said the decision not to issue a report on rda's "at this time stems primarily from an impasse" that resulted from scientific differences of opinion between the committee, scientific reviewers appointed by the research council, and additional reviewers appointed by the federal Food and Nutrition Board. The report had been expected this past summer.

"I think that the academy has acted wisely in withdrawing the draft report," said Lynn Parker, senior nutritionist for the Food Action and Research Center, a Washington public-interest group. "I think it's been a running problem over there for several months, and it was finally brought to a head."--at

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