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Use of the net metabolizable energy values for labeling of infant formulas and foods—potential issues

Journal of Food Composition and Analysis
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jfca.2003.10.006
  • Net Metabolizable Energy
  • Infant
  • Energy Density


Abstract The use of net metabolizable energy (NME) rather than metabolizable energy (ME) to determine energy values for food labeling has been suggested. A review was undertaken to determine issues that might arise if NME were applied to infant formulas and foods for infants. Both ME and NME factors derived from adult studies appear to be reasonably applicable to infants. Use of NME rather than ME values decreased the apparent energy density of human milk by about 4%; that of infant formulas, 4–6%. Even though the regulatory requirements for upper and lower limits of nutrients in infant formulas are expressed per 100 kJ or per 100 kcal, few significant issues would be expected based on a change in the declared energy content of this magnitude. Energy content of representative baby foods decreased 2–9%. The regulatory implications of using NME are at least a requirement to relabel virtually all products. The use of NME as it relates to selection of a healthy diet for infants, scientific validity, comparability of food energy values and requirements, interproduct comparisons and facilitation of trade are briefly addressed. It is recommended that factors used to calculate food energy in infant formula and foods for infants and small children be consistent with those used for other foods.

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