Strict controls on foreign nurses axed by EU diktat, allowing them to work here with just TWO days’ testing
Poorly-trained foreign nurses will be allowed to work in Britain after completing only two days of role playing and multiple choice tests. The short course replaces the rigorous assessments and exams currently undertaken by those failing to meet NHS standards.
To work on wards, nurses are likely to need to show only their skills on dummies, with no requirement to speak good English.
The shake-up is being imposed by the European Union, which says tests on foreign workers go against its freedom of movement laws.
Senior health officials fear the multiple choice assessments, which will begin in April, will be unrealistic and too easy.
Under the existing rules, any EU nurse whose training is deemed substandard must go on an intensive adaptation programme lasting up to six months before they can work in UK hospitals. The courses, which can cost up to £1,500, are run by universities and consist of theory tests, written coursework and practical exams in wards or nursing homes. Although not directly assessed on their English, candidates would struggle to pass without good language skills.
The regime is so strict that only a quarter of the 8,000 EU nurses who apply to work in the UK every year see the process through. Most are put off by the cost and difficulty of making the grade.
Those not up to scratch largely come from states relatively new to the EU such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Estonia and Latvia.
The new tests are being drawn up by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. It is understood they will involve multiple choice, role plays and demonstrations on dummy patients – and may last just two days.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘These multiple choice tests will be far too simple. ‘This is giving patient safety no priority. How can nurses’ ability to carry out drug calculations and all the other skills required on the ward be assessed in a multiple choice test? It’s disgraceful that this is allowed to happen.’
John Lister, director of campaign group London Health Emergency, said: ‘This is a retrograde step and this is something the NMC should be challenging in court.’
The council is being forced to take action after being threatened with lawsuits by Bulgarian nurses who claimed it was too difficult to register to work in Britain.
The EU has also blocked rigorous checks on foreign GPs who want to work here. This had disastrous results in 2008 when engineer David Gray died at the hands of German locum Daniel Ubani, who gave him ten times the normal dose of diamorphine. Mr Gray’s son Stuart, who is a GP in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, said: ‘It’s a ludicrous system. The NHS is a very different to other countries’ health systems and people need training before they can practise here.’
Nurses from countries outside the EU will still face stringent tests. The NHS relies on foreign nurses and in the past decade more than 90,000 have registered to work in the UK, mainly from the Philippines, Australia, India and South Africa.
Relaxing the entry requirements for EU nurses is likely to see an influx of nurses who had felt it too much trouble to work in Britain.
A spokesman for the Nursing and Midwifery Council said: ‘The test will ensure that EU-trained nurses are able to meet the same standards that we require of nurses who trained in the UK.’
A Department of Health spokesman said foreign healthcare professionals would need to pass robust language and competency tests.
How Britain’s so-called liberals have stifled free speech and become the very censors they should abhor
There is an old tradition of newspapers publishing fanciful or outrageous items on April Fool’s Day and inviting readers to spot them. The trouble is that nowadays there are unbelievable stories in almost every issue which would qualify. Amazingly — and depressingly — they are true.
Yesterday’s Mail reported that a health watchdog has had its funding withdrawn by Wiltshire Council after its chairwoman used the phrase ‘jungle drums’ to describe gossip. Anna Farquhar had noted that talk about NHS changes was spreading within the health service, remarking: ‘You cannot help the jungle drums.’
Sitting as a member of the general public in the local scout hut where the meeting took place was Sonia Carr. She objected strongly to the phrase ‘jungle drums’, regarding it as racist.
Mrs Farquhar immediately apologised for any offence caused, but Mrs Carr, a member of the Wiltshire Racial Equality Council, was unsatisfied, and submitted a complaint to Wiltshire Council, which launched an inquiry costing tens of thousands of pounds.
Six months later the council — which, believe it or not, is Tory — has produced a ten-page report upholding Mrs Carr’s complaint.
Mrs Farquhar and fellow members of her independent watchdog have been banned from council meetings and premises as though they were common criminals rather than people trying to improve their local health service. The council has also withdrawn funding that covered the group’s administrative costs.
It can’t be true, can it? I’m afraid it is. It may sound like a parody or send-up or an elaborate and not very good joke, but this is a fairly normal event in modern Britain — so relatively unexceptional that most of the media have chosen to ignore it.
Thousands of pounds have been wasted, and the peace of mind of a decent woman and her group shattered, all because a silly woman and a nincompoop council took offence at the term ‘jungle drums’.
There is, of course, nothing remotely racist about it. In the pre-telegraph age, jungle drums served as a very good method in parts of Africa and elsewhere of communicating messages over a long distance. That’s a fact.
The phrase does not make us think badly of Africans, nor does it diminish them or anyone else in our eyes. It serves as an effective metaphor for the rapid and sometimes mysterious way in which gossip is transmitted.
Though on one level the story is farcical, at a deeper level it is disturbing. One of the greatest threats to all of us in life is stupid people who are unaware of their limitations.
They can cause a great deal of damage. When their stupidity receives the backing of the law and the support of one of the institutions of the State — which is what Wiltshire Council is — it assumes a threatening, even sinister quality.
How did supposedly liberal people turn into petty tyrants? I believe that is what Mrs Carr, and many other people who regard themselves as enlightened, have become.
The intellectual history of the past 250 years has been one of increasing freedom of expression in politics, religion and literature. In the past 50 years that process has accelerated, so that it seemed there was practically nothing that could not be said or written.
Except when it offended the sensibilities of people who proclaim their liberalism but seek to censor others who say things they deem offensive. Even merely to hold views that diverge from the new orthodoxy on issues such as global warming or religion or traditional morality is to risk at best ridicule, at worst censure and contempt.
In short, the bigots who bear down on dissent have shifted from the Right or the portals of the old Establishment to the liberal Left and the new Establishment.
Of course, not all liberals are intolerant, any more than all members of the old Establishment were. But when we consider what we can or cannot say or write, we no longer think of the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Lord Chamberlain, but of the politically correct brigade who may declare — as in the case of ‘jungle drums’ — the mildest and most inoffensive thought out of bounds.
Am I resting too much on the slender shoulders of Sonia Carr and Wiltshire Council? I wish I were.
Yesterday’s Mail also carried a story about Dr Hans-Christian Raabe, a Christian GP, who has been fired as a government adviser on drugs for having expressed ‘embarrassing’ views about homosexuality.
It turns out that Dr Raabe and several colleagues wrote a scientific paper six years ago in which they concluded that there was a ‘disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among paedophiles’.
Now I actually think he may be wrong, but equally I should have thought that his views on homosexuality had very little, if anything, to do with his competence to serve as a drugs adviser. But in the unreasoning, bigoted society in which we live he is simply deemed unsuitable.
Naturally, no one bothers to inquire whether there might be a scintilla of truth in what he wrote about paedophilia. The point is that it offends against what the politically correct crew believe has to be true.
The two cases are admittedly different in several respects but my point is that there is a new liberal tyranny which seeks to shut down debate and dissent. So-called liberals exhibit the very narrow mindedness they used to abhor, and an absence of that broadness of mind that was once the very essence of liberalism.
One phrase used by John Thomson, deputy leader of Wiltshire Council, particularly struck me. He said: ‘The law makes it clear that what matters is not the intention of the person who uses the phrase but whether anybody is offended by it.’ If this is true, we really are on the path to censorship by the ignorant. Anyone can be offended by anything.
Under some new law, or for all I know under an existing law, the Sonia Carrs of this world may object to the word ‘blackboard’ and, who knows, we may sooner or later be forbidden to order ‘black coffee’.
In literature, Kipling’s Jungle Book will be proscribed on the grounds that it is racist and demeaning. The whole of Kipling will surely have to be banned, along with books by Dickens and the novelist Wilkie Collins that are judged anti-Semitic.
And what about Shakespeare’s Othello? That must be outlawed because it portrays a black man as a murderer — implying, in the minds of the very stupid, racial stereotyping.
When journalists wonder whether they too will one day be subject to censorship for expressing unfashionable views, I tend to chuckle to myself.
But who would have dreamt even ten years ago that an upstanding 70-year-old woman, declared by her friends to be untainted by racism, who was trying to serve her community, could be humiliated and stigmatised purely for using the innocuous phrase ‘jungle drums’?
Every day I read or hear some mild remark that offends me. I can always take issue, of course. There is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned argument. But tolerant and broad-minded people do not run off to the law and try to get someone banned.
This kind of inverted McCarthyism is the action of bigots and tyrants — of people who want us all to hold their views and who will not tolerate dissent.
The world they are shaping is monochrome and rather frightening. It is the very opposite of what liberalism was supposed to be but, alas, it is what so-called liberalism has become.
Token sentence for vicious British female
A judge has blasted ladette drinking culture and lax licensing laws after a mother was blinded by a stiletto shoe in a horrifying attack.
Joanne Brown, 34, was left blind in one eye and scarred for life after she was attacked while enjoying a night out. Amy Leigh Smith, 17, pushed her to the floor while dancing on a ‘raised platform’ in a nightclub before stamping twice on her face – using her heel as a weapon.
Yesterday Judge Ian Trigger told Smith: ‘Our towns and city centres are becoming for decent law abiding people no go areas. ‘And the sole reason for that is the consumption by young people – women as well as men – of excessive quantities of alcohol.’ He told her: ‘Society is becoming increasingly fed up with the boorish and drunken antics of people such as yourself.’
Judge Trigger also lambasted the licensing laws which allow alcohol to be served in nightclubs up until dawn. He said the nightclub where the assault took place – the Pada Lounge in Wigan – was open at weekends until 6am. He said: ‘It beggars belief why the local authority permit places such as that to remain open until an hour of the day when people are starting to get up.’
Judge Trigger hit out after sentencing Smith to 33 months behind bars for the terrifying attack in the nightclub.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Brown, a mother-of-one, had been out for a meal with friends in May 2009 before going on to the nightclub. Graham Pickavance, prosecuting, said she had gone over to a friend who was on a raised dance floor to take her away from an argument. But as she turned to leave she was pushed over by Smith who then stamped on her face twice with her stiletto shoe.
Mr Pickavance said: ‘She came round in a small room with blood pouring down her face. She was taken to hospital because of the severity of bleeding to her eye.’ ‘There were at least two stamps on Joanne Brown’s head with her high heel shoes and that caused the optic nerve to snap which resulted in her being blinded.’
The court heard Miss Brown had to undergo three operations and has been left with a lazy eye and a scarred lip. The jury was told the assault had devastated the mother-of-one’s life and left her suffering from severe panic attacks.
Before the attack she had been working as a support worker and had real hopes of beginning a promising career. She said: ‘The person who did the assault on me has not only destroyed me as a person but has also taken my dreams away. ‘I had plans of moving to work with the Prison Service but this will never happen now as a result of my loss of sight.’
Smith was later picked out in an identity parade and pleaded guilty to assault on the first day of her trial in January.
Catherine Rimmer, defending, said: ‘She is horrified by her behaviour on this night. Going out and getting intoxicated is not something she did very often. She shouldn’t have drunk the alcohol that she did.’
Judge Trigger told her: ‘You over indulged in excessive alcohol and the consequences were almost inevitable. ‘You were in Pada Lounge during the early hours of that morning and were behaving in a drunken and boorish manner pushing people on a raised dance floor.
‘Because of some imagined slight you, wearing heels, approached her and stamped with one of those high heeled feet not once but twice on the prone and defenceless victim. It was on act which had horrendous consequences which will be with her for the rest of her life.’
Smith, who is now more than seven months pregnant, will have her baby behind bars.
British school teaches pupils in classes of SEVENTY… and says children are learning more
The conventional wisdom has long been straightforward: smaller classes equal better lessons. But a headmaster has rewritten the school rules with mammoth class sizes of up to 70 – and he says the result has been a dramatic improvement in standards.
Bure Valley Junior School, in Norfolk, teaches youngsters aged seven to nine in groups of 60 to 70. The classes, which it claims are the biggest in the country, are divided into smaller groups and taught by two teachers and two assistants in one big classroom.
Headmaster John Starling insists that since beginning the experiment two years ago, his pupils have doubled the amount they learn in a year. It has been so successful, he says, that he plans to roll it out to the rest of the school.
Mr Starling believes larger classes make lessons more fun and collaborative for pupils and teachers, improving the quality of teaching. ‘We’ve monitored the children very carefully in core subjects,’ he said. ‘At the end of the first year we found they had made double the progress they had in the previous year. Staff can work closely with specific groups of children within classes and teachers benefited because they had colleagues in the same room. ‘Teachers are enjoying it, they’re not on their own and it’s particularly good for newly qualified teachers because they have an experienced colleague on hand.’
Ofsted has rated the school ‘good’ overall and the teaching in the super-sized classes ‘outstanding’.
With the population set to balloon in the next decade – with 500,000 new primary school places needed by 2018 – ministers, head teachers and educationalists will watch the experiment with interest. At present the average size of a state primary class is 26.2 pupils. By law it is not allowed to exceed 30 for children aged four to eight.
There are, however, no restrictions for nine-year-olds, allowing Mr Starling to boost his classes to 70 for the older children. For the younger children, he got round the law by using two teachers.
The headmaster’s move follows the extraordinary admission of former education secretary Charles Clarke – who was responsible for enshrining in law a 30-pupil maximum – that there was no evidence to suggest smaller classes were better.
But it has brought an angry response from teaching unions, who have long fought to reduce numbers in lessons. And independent schools – which have an average of 9.2 students per class – admit a low pupil-teacher ratio is their key selling point.
Class sizes have been a hot political topic for decades. Until the 1940s education was very ad hoc and pupils of all ages were often taught together in a large village hall. By the 1960s, when 10 per cent of primary classes housed more than 40 pupils, unions campaigned for a 40-pupil maximum. They are now calling for classes of 20 by 2020.
Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘The independent sector does not seem to be convinced by the argument that class size does not matter and nor is the NUT. ‘The most common reason given by parents to take their children out of the state school system and go into the independent sector is the issue of smaller classes and the obvious benefits they perceive them to have. This ensures that teachers can give the very best to all children in their class.’
David Lyscom, of the Independent Schools Association, said: ‘We know that low pupil-teacher ratios, maintained over a number of years, are valued by parents of our pupils.’
The Coalition has refused to be drawn on the possibility of enlarged classes, saying it hopes to tackle high demand with new state schools and ‘free’ schools.
Topical Storm Alert: ‘Climate Week’ has formed, and may be intensifying ahead of its expected UK landfall in March
Climate Week, 21 – 27 March 2011 in Britain
The National Association of Head Teachers is said to be supporting it, and so is Tesco, Kellogs, Aviva, EDF, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. And a great many others – a veritable roll call of the establishment.
This cyclone’s energy is being raised and organised by a committee of a few seasoned organisers and a lot of fresh young ones. They remind me just a bit of my own good self way back in the 70s, when Ehrlich and the Club of Rome were persuading us that we were doomed, would be lucky to see the year 2000, and even if we did, we’d not be having much fun, what with the starving, fighting, freezing, and choking and all. Except, I don’t think I looked nearly as good nor as cheerful as they do. But then I was an angry young man attacking the establishment’s views, while they are supporting them.
The CEO is Kevin, who obviously is quick and light on his feet to complete this sort of manoeuvre – the leap across a change of government:
“From 2007 to 2009 Kevin sat on the Council on Social Action chaired by the Prime Minister, and on the government’s Talent and Enterprise Task Force. He chaired the Enterprise Campaign Coalition and was on the selection committee of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion. He currently sits on the steering group of the Big Society Network launched by the Prime Minister, David Cameron in July 2010.”
Phil is Head of Communications, and is clearly into green and good causes:
“Phil has worked on numerous award-winning campaigns for social and environmental causes, including Friends of the Earth’s Big Ask , WWF’s Earth Hour, and Orange RockCorps, an initiative uniting young people with their community through music. He helped launch eco blockbuster Age of Stupid with the greenest ever world premiere and organised the UK’s first prison gig at HM Pentonville to highlight the problem of young male suicide. He is a trustee of Dramatic Need, a groundbreaking arts charity supported by Oscar-winning director (and fellow trustee) Danny Boyle, which works with severely underprivileged children in South Africa and Rwanda.”
There are 16 more, several of whom seem to have held down more ordinary jobs, and several are just setting out on their journeys to help us all out, and get paid for it at the same time. Not that money is important when you have a planet to save.
Actually, let me rephrase that: ‘the hundreds of billions of dollars, pounds, and euros diverted into climate change good works of one kind or another, are as nothing compared to the losses they tell us we would see if we hadn’t spent all that money on them’.
In particular, we might not have learned how to adjust the thermostat on our global warming system, to return climate to the idyllic past of, say the 19th century? Or perhaps we’d choose the Little Ice Age which spanned the 18th century, or the Medieval Warm Period that preceded it. Or perhaps even a return to the golden days of the Climatic Optimum, a few thousand years earlier in our beloved Holocene, when mean temperatures were several degrees higher than in industrial times and humanity thrived like never before.
Anyway, this is to daydream…let’s get back to the Topical Storm now heading our way:
“Climate Week is a supercharged national occasion that offers an annual renewal of our ambition and confidence to combat climate change. It is for everyone wanting to do their bit to protect our planet and create a secure future.
Climate Week will shine a spotlight on the many positive steps already being taken in workplaces and communities across Britain. The power of these real, practical examples – the small improvements and the big innovations – will then inspire millions more people.
Thousands of businesses, charities, schools, councils and others will run events during Climate Week on 21-27 March 2011. They will show what can be achieved, share ideas and encourage thousands more to act during the rest of the year.
You can help create a massive movement for change by making Climate Week happen where you are. Ask an organisation or group you know, such as your workplace or local school, to run an event.”
Well, I wonder how many will? Climategate was a bit of a bummer in late 2009, and the ice and snow and sundry political farces in and around Copenhagen that December can’t have helped much. The Met Office has given climate prediction for just a few weeks ahead a bit of a bad name in 2010, issuing secret forecasts of impressive vagueness at huge expense to poor old HMG, which ran out of cash in the cold weather funds before January 2011 got underway. The public has been up to its ears in global warming of late, and hasn’t liked it one little bit.
There may even be some who have been convinced that CO2 controls climate, and that we’d all be a nice bit warmer if only we could only get more of the stuff to stay up in the air. Somehow I foresee that their projects and events and suggestions will not see the light of day as ‘Climate Week’ strikes, and we are deluged with the establishment’s perspective instead. But wait! Have the Met Office predicted such a deluge for late March? If they have, perhaps there is yet still hope …
Even “junk” food can provide your daily dose of vitamins
The mountain of food surrounding me would send shivers up the spine of any right-thinking foodie. On my kitchen table sits an awesome pile of junk: frozen pizzas, long-life naan breads, industrial cheese, instant mashed potato, chocolate, peanuts and burgers, all of it amounting to four times my usual daily calories.
A diet made up solely of this stuff could, in the long-term, endanger your health by sheer volume of fat, salt and sugar. But it also has something very important going for it: this mountain of junk contains your entire Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of the 18 vitamins and minerals your body needs.
We’ve all seen RDAs on cereal packets and vitamin-supplement bottles, listing substances such as iron, niacin and pantothenic acid. If you’re anything like me, you’ve felt a warm glow of smugness when you’ve read on the side of your Cheerios that ‘one 30g serving provides 25 per cent of your RDA of riboflavin’. How lovely, we think — until it dawns on us that we have no idea a) what riboflavin is, b) what it’s for and c) what other food we’d find it in.
So, many of us throw money at the problem in the form of expensive multivitamin pills in a desperate attempt to hit our RDAs, which is why the supplement industry in the UK is worth £396 million a year.
But do we really need RDAs? I set out to investigate what they mean, and whether it’s really possible to hit these nutritional targets with daily diet.
It turns out that RDAs are of questionable use, and have largely ended up as a way for food manufacturers to boost sales. And incredibly, you can get all your RDAs from junk food — as illustrated by the U.S. study, out this week, that found dark chocolate contained more antioxidants and healthy plant compounds than fruit juice.
RDAs were first cooked up in the darkest days of World War II by U.S. doctors who wanted to know the minimum rations their servicemen could live on while based in England, preparing for D-Day. Food was shipped over in convoys braving the U-boat infested Atlantic, so it was imperative sailors’ lives were not risked unnecessarily.
At the end of the Forties, British doctors went a step further, concocting an average required intake of vitamins to maintain daily health based on post-war rationing.
Since then, the guidelines have been reviewed several times. They were formalised by the European Commission in 1991, but in the same year the Department of Health replaced them with a much more comprehensive but slightly baffling system that uses DRVs (Dietary Reference Values), which give recommendations based on age, sex and health.
But it’s RDAs that are still used on the side of your cereal packet — even though all those percentages and milligrams are outdated and, for many people, completely misleading. For instance, a healthy male adult needs eight times more iron than a three-month-old baby (and an iron overdose can kill).
I asked Nestle, who make my Cheerios why they still include RDAs on their packaging, but they failed to respond before going to press. But, I hear you cry, RDAs are on food labels because they’re legally required, so surely they must be right?
When I contacted the Food and Drink Federation about this, they said it’s only if food manufacturers state the amount of vitamins and minerals on the packaging that they’re legally required to provide them as a percentage of the RDAs. RDAs are actually compulsory only for a limited range of products such as supplements and infant formula, says Peter Berry Ottaway, a leading British consultant in food sciences for more than 30 years. ‘Major supermarket groups have been forcing suppliers to put labelling on everything, as they believe that it improves sales,’ he adds.
So how much notice should we take of RDAs?
After I had chased various different agencies, the Department of Health finally responded to my questions. Basically, RDAs do exist, but officially we don’t really use them any more.
It’s all very confusing — there’s no easy-to-access information that the public can find. Official dietary advice tells us that we should be able to get all our vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet and shouldn’t need supplements.
I wanted to find out if it’s really possible to eat my full wallop of RDAs — not just from the oyster and guava fantasy diets dreamt up by advertising executives, but from the food real people like you and me eat when we’re busy, tired at the end of a long day, or desperate for a snack. Which is why I find myself heading for Morrisons in North London to buy my RDA.
One of the first things I discover is that many of these vitamins and minerals can be pretty tricky to get from a normal, healthy diet. For example, I’d have to eat 14 large portions of peas to get my daily intake of magnesium — or 300g of dark chocolate. Hmm, I know which one I think I can manage.
You can get your full dose of vitamin C from two-and-a-half portions of chips — or one-and-a-quarter bags of watercress. In fact, the junk food often has a gratifying amount of good stuff.
Once home, I begin my challenge with lunch, cracking open my pint of Guinness (for my full RDA of vitamin B12).
Next, I start work on two portions of breaded haddock (for my phosphorus RDA) and two-thirds of a pizza (the dough gives me my full dose of calcium). I also have my first of the day’s Burger King Whoppers (iron) and a large portion of spinach (folic acid).
Still feeling full, I sit down to tea. Two-and-a-half slices of Victoria sponge (vitamin D), a pint of milk (riboflavin) and a thick sarnie of salmon paste (iodine) later, I’m feeling listless and slovenly.
At supper, I plod through four naan breads (vitamin E) and four scoops of instant mash (fortified with vitamin C) as my two young daughters watch in awe. This turns to irritation as I refuse to let them help me with three bars of dark chocolate (magnesium).
I put three tablespoons of cream cheese (vitamin A) into the remaining one-and-a-half Whoppers. A slice of liver gives me a tasty whack of zinc, and I wash it all down with a nice cup of Bovril (thiamin). I snack on six bananas for my vitamin B6 (one vitamin it’s hard to find in junk food) as I watch a movie, and by 11pm I think I’ve made it — an hour early.
But then I spot a large pack of roasted peanuts I’d forgotten. I’m tempted to skip them until I realise I have to eat them for the biotin, pantothenic acid and niacin. A shade before midnight, I raise my arms in a silent cheer: I’ve done it!
The next morning, as I sat down to write up the whole sorry episode, I felt pain, shame, lethargy and a fair amount of flatulence. But on the positive side, I have been enlightened. The extraordinary thing about my day’s diet was not just that I had managed to eat my entire RDA of all 18 vitamins and minerals, but that those nutrients came from unlikely sources.
Nutritionists may dismiss convenience food and naughty snacks as rubbish food with ‘empty calories’, but that’s often not the case. As it turns out, loads of foods have lurking goodness, even though they also have high concentrations of fat, salt or sugar.
So should we ignore RDAs? Yes. If looking at the side of your cereal packet makes you feel happy, that’s great, but, weirdly, a good chunk of our minerals and vitamins can be in ‘junk food’ — so a bag of chips can be part of a well-balanced diet.
As for supplements, it may be useful to take notice of RDAs if you’re pregnant, sick or elderly, but unless your doctor says you need them, don’t throw your money away. Spend it on better food, instead.
Now, I don’t want people to eat more burgers and chips than they already do, considering obesity levels. But I’m also wary of the nutritional Nazis who try to spread fear and guilt, while flogging expensive nuts, snake oil and supplements.
A good diet is one that covers a broad range of food groups, doesn’t make you overweight, and makes you happy. So eat well and broadly and certainly don’t take too much notice of RDAs — they’re all going to change again in November.