Consumption of liver and liver-based foods by children under school age – new information and new recommendations


<div>Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has carried out a risk assessment on the exposure to vitamin A of Finnish 1-, 3- and 6-year-old children through the intake of liver-based foods. Evira, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the National Nutrition Council have made a collective decision to modify the recommendations concerning the consumption of liver. Research confirms that the upper tolerable intake limit of retinoids by children who eat liver may be exceeded. Moderate consumption of liver sausage, liver pâté and the traditional baked liver dish is safe, however.</div>

The risk assessment that has now been completed confirms that liver consumption helps some children to fulfil the intake recommendations for vitamin A, but it exposes other children to levels of retinoids that are too high. The greatest risk lies in the consumption of liver sauce and liver patties. Liver dishes can, however, be included in the diet of children between 1 and 6 years of age, as long as they are not eaten too often. Besides the eating frequency, serving size is a central factor when it comes to the safe consumption of liver dishes. For the assessment of the intake, the food intake data from a study on prediction and prevention of type 1 diabetes (DIPP study) was used, as well as recipe data from the food industry and the National Public Health Institute.

New recommendations for the consumption of liver and liver-based food by children under school age:

Infants (under 1 years of age)
Liver and all liver-based foods have to be avoided in the diet

Under school age
Liver sausage and liver pâté a maximum of a total of 70 g a week (about 4-5 slices a week)
Traditional baked liver dish a maximum of 300 g (3/4 container of ready-made) a month
Liver sauce and liver patties should be avoided

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient which is of central importance to many of the bodily functions. The body can not produce vitamin A by itself, which means that it has to come from the food. Vitamin A is found in retinoid form in foods of animal origin, and in foods of plant origin as carotenoids, which are converted into retinoids in the body. Both vitamin A deficiency and excessive intake can be harmful to health. Vitamin A deficiency however, is rare in the Western countries. But there is a risk of an excessive intake of vitamin A in retinoid form. This is why it has been recommended that consumption of liver dishes by children should be limited. Plant products contain vitamin A in the form of carotenoids, which involve no risk even when large servings of berries, fruit and vegetables are consumed.

More information on the consumption of liver and liver based foods is found on Evira’s web pages (in Finnish):

The risk assessment report “Intake of vitamin A from liver foods among Finnish 1-, 3- and 6-year-old children – a quantitative risk assessment” (Evira’s research 7/2008):

For more information, please contact:
Risk assessment: Senior Researcher Kirsi-Helena Liukkonen, tel. +358 (0) 40 822 5629,
Recommendations on the consumption of liver: Senior Officer Annika Nurttila, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24290,

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