percentage information (Hutt, 1995). US RDAs were derived from the highest of the National Research Council’s 1968 Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) (NRC, 1968) for persons 4 years of age and older, excluding pregnant and lactating women. The exceptions were calcium and phosphorus, for which the highest values were not selected. Instead, the labeling values were based on the human requirements of approximately 1 g for calcium and on an equimolar basis for phosphorus. Other exceptions were the US RDAs for copper, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Although the scientific community recognized that these nutrients were essential for health, no RDAs had been established for them at that time.
The use of the highest values of the RDAs for most US RDAs grew out of concern about nutrient deficiencies in some segments of the population. Differences among the highest RDAs for the various age and gender groups were considered minor. The values for 19-to 35-year-old men were the highest and therefore were used for the reference values, with the exception of iron, where the RDA for women was selected. For food targeted for children less than 4 years of age, the RDA for that age group was selected.
In the 1970s evidence emerged that suggested a role for nutrition in reducing the risk for several chronic diseases. In 1977 the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs published Dietary Goals for the United States (Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, 1977), which provided dietary recommendations to assist in maintaining health and reducing risk for chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. In response, in 1979 the Surgeon General issued a report on health promotion and disease prevention (DHEW, 1979), and in 1980 USDA and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued the first edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (USDA/DHEW, 1980).
The final impetus for major changes in nutrition labeling regulations, including nutrient reference values, occurred in the late 1980s. In 1988 then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop released The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health (DHHS, 1988). This report and the National Research Council (NRC) report Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk (NRC, 1989a) described significant links between dietary patterns and chronic diseases. Also in 1989 NRC issued the tenth edition of Recommended Dietary Allowances (NRC, 1989b). To address concerns about the currency of nutrient information in food labeling, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and USDA asked the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a review of nutrition labeling. The study resulted in a report, Nutrition Labeling: Issues and Direc-