Symposium: Food Composition in the Mediterranean, harmonisation & networking

Saturday 27th October, Madrid (ES), by Maria Kapsokefalou (AUA, GR)

EuroFIR organised a Symposium on Food composition in the Mediterranean: Harmonisation & Networking, during NutriMAD Congress (IV World Congress of Public Health Nutrition and XII Congreso de Sociedad Española de Nutrición Comunitaria; http://www.nutrimad2018.com/).

Chaired by EuroFIR Director, Maria Kapsokefalou, from the Agricultural University of Athens (GR), speakers included experts on food composition (Aida Turrini from CREA - IT, Angela Moreno from the University of Granada - ES, Helena Soares from INSA - PT).

Speakers briefly presented history and current state of food composition databases (FCD) in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.  They discussed the strengths, the weaknesses and the challenges that they face in each of these countries meeting high demands in research and in policy development.  Main points of the expressed opinions are in Table 1.  The presentations and the discussion that followed led to the expressed thought that a Mediterranean Network (MeNe) expanded to include EU and non-EU countries in the Mediterranean Region would create synergies in the region to meet the challenges on FCD.

Table 1: Strengths, weaknesses and challenges of FCD in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal
StrengthsWeaknessChallenges
An evolution of FCD in some countries particularly during recent yearsLimited resources to update dataNetwork Mediterranean countries, not only European, to create new capacities
Participation to the EuroFIR consortium and the advantage of access to resourcesLack of standardization in building the databasesSeek funding for networking, capacity building, and overall generation of new data crucial points for the future of Food Composition Tables (FCTs) and the computerized format, namely Food Composition Databases (FCDBs)
High scientific level of compilers that guarantees the critical evaluation of resourcesDifficulties to coordinate with multiple bodies that may provide data (e.g. academia, industry, state labs)Capture cultural differences as well as communalities in Med Countries when building FCDB
ChallengesCapturing cultural specificities and needs for defining a common language to describing and comparing foods, food procurements, food preparations, kitchen routines, dishes, mealsCollect main Mediterranean recipes in order to cook and calculate its yield (and, if it is possible, retention) factors. It could help MeNe get others YF better for our typical recipes than those from Bognar et al.

During the presentation and the discussion that followed with the participation from the audience, it was recognized that:

  • A Mediterranean Network (MeNe) expanded to include EU and non-EU countries in the Mediterranean Region, will create synergies enabling the development and/or the continuous update of FCTs and FCDBs.
  • The adoption of the harmonized standardized procedures of EuroFIR from the countries that participate in the MeNe is important for its future success and sustainability.
  • The MeNe is vital for the development of ambitious common research and policy initiatives in support of the Mediterranean Diet.
  • EuroFIR may coordinate and provide intellectual support to the MeNe.
Conclusion & follow up

Following the Symposium the 4 speakers, Gregorio Varela Moreiras, Emilio Martinez and Alba Martínez Burgos exchanged ideas about the EuroFIR potential (practical) contribution to the MeNe:

  • Create a EuroFIR toolbox for helping the building of the FCD in countries that have no or not updated FCD
  • Create an EuroFIR toolbox for introducing new concepts e.g., support with food description, recipe calculation, e-tools
  • Coordinate efforts for networking
  • Support efforts in attracting funding
  • Thinking about selected branded food composition databases where companies pay to put their products and sponsor exhibitions in conferences.

Tags: Food composition, Mediterranean, Nutrition, Symposium

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