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Food standards, dietary modelling and public health nutrition policy


  • Dorothy MACKERRAS

    Corresponding author
    1. Office of the Chief Scientist, Food Standards Australia New Zealand
    2. University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
      D. Mackerras, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, PO Box 7186, Canberra BC, ACT 2610, Australia. Email:
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  • D. Mackerras, PhD, Chief Public Health Nutrition Advisor, Adjunct Professor

D. Mackerras, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, PO Box 7186, Canberra BC, ACT 2610, Australia. Email:


Aim:  The review aims to describe how the use of dietary modelling to inform the development of food standards sits within a larger risk analysis framework and to show how the framework has wider applicability.

Method:  A narrative review is produced with reference to key published literature and authoritative sources related to the topic.

Results:  An essential feature of this framework is the separation in thinking between risk assessment and risk management. In risk assessment, dietary modelling assists in characterising the risk of the dietary component of exposure to a given food chemical or nutrient intake for a specific population. Risk management is the process of deciding what, if anything, should be done about the potential risk and analysing what option(s) are available. In risk management, the results of RISK Assessment, other information, such as behavioural science and health economic analysis, and policy considerations, inform the decision about which option should be selected.

To illustrate how the framework can be used in public health, the steps in the framework are compared with the steps for developing food-based dietary guidelines, an educational tool aimed at the general public.

Conclusion:  The framework can help make sense of the various streams of information used in the wider public health nutrition arena. Depending on the purpose, different types of dietary modelling might be needed in risk assessment and to develop risk management options.

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