11th International Postgraduate Course on the Production and Use of Food Composition Data in Nutrition
7 - 17 October, 2012
9th International Food Data Conference
14 - 17 September 2011, Norwich, UK
EuroFIR NEXUS kick-off meeting and 2nd EuroFIR AISBL GA Meeting
4 - 6 April 2011, Heidelberg, Germany
EFSA's 14th Scientific Colloquium on Food Classification
Unambiguous ambiguity – the challenge of describing food
On June 23 and 24 2010 some 90 scientists and stakeholders from 33 countries, including the USA and Australia, gathered in Parma, Italy, to attend EFSA's Scientific Colloquium on Food Classification.
Paul Finglas, Simone and a further three EuroFIR AISBL member experts gave invited presentations about EuroFIR's experiences on food classification, using LanguaL, recipe calculation and nutrient retention factors, acted chair of the event as well as co-chair and rapporteur of the discussion group on composite foods. The presentations can be found at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu./en/events/event/colloque100420.htm.
EuroFIR Stakeholders meeting
Understanding Food – EuroFIR’s success story towards becoming a unique food information provider March 25th, 2010, Museum of Natural Sciences, rue Vautier 29, B-1000, Brussels, Belgium.
Final programme (PDF - 667 KB)
Chairs: Dr Jurgen Lucas from the EC, and Dr André Pirlet from CEN.
Overview of EU regulatory initiatives on nutrition information on foods (PDF - 92 KB)
Helen Lee, DG Sanco, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium
Helen described a number of food related initiatives that have been the subject of recent regulation including regulation on nutrition and health claims, on the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods and the proposed regulation on the provision of food information to consumers. She also described the aims of the EU nutrition strategy and how this can help to improve health and wellbeing across the continent.
EuroFIR – A success story
Paul Finglas, EuroFIR Coordinator, Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK (PDF - 6 MB)
Paul outlined the achievements of the EuroFIR (European Food Information Resource) FP6-funded Network of Excellence since it began in 2005, including the increased availability of online food composition data, the standardisation of the data platform across Europe and the worldwide use of the food description thesaurus Langual. EuroFIR’s work will be sustained by the new not-for-profit organisation, EuroFIR AISBL (Association International Sans But Lucratif), based in Belgium and is one of the few European Networks of Excellence to achieve this.
The EuroFIR Food Data Platform (PDF - 6,8 MB)
Anders Møller, Danish Food Information, Roskilde, Denmark
Anders emphasised the achievements of the EuroFIR Network of Excellence, describing it as a ‘world leading consortium’ providing more online data than anywhere else in the world. He described the virtual platform provided by EuroFIR, and the e-search facility which can currently deliver data from 25 national datasets, 4 specialised datasets and 5 historical datasets. The e-search facility was demonstrated, and the different search facilities and outputs shown.
Nadia Slimani from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France asked how EuroFIR could help to improve comparability between nutrient values. Anders responded that the e-search facility allowed end-users to be aware of the data source, however it was difficult to determine how much information an end-user needs and that this should be tailored to suit different user-groups. Christophe Mattys from the International Life Science Institute (ILSI), Belgium, Brussels asked whether there were any plans to widen the data to food ingredients and to address issues of portion size. Anders responded that there was work ongoing on including data on ingredients, but that the issue of portion size was much more complex to address.
The uses of food data by EFSA (PDF - 4,6 MB)
Dr. Liisa Valsta, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Liisa outlined EFSA’s requirements for food composition data in order to carry out exposure assessment at a European level and to substantiate health claims applications. EFSA also has particular needs with regards to data on vulnerable groups and on ‘high consumers’ of particular foods or drinks. She described how EFSA has worked with the EuroFIR consortium and outlined plans for developing EFSA’s food composition resources in the future, including the development of a ‘data warehouse’ to store information regarding food safety.
Robert Van Gorcom from RIKILT – Institute of Food Safety in Wageningen in the Netherlands, asked Liisa how EuroFIR data is used by EFSA. She described EFSA’s support for EuroFIR’s development of the Nettox database and hoped that more links between EFSA and the EuroFIR consortium would be developed in future. She also emphasised the key role of European Member States in providing data. Hedwig Beernaert, an independent consultant in food analysis, asked whether EFSA might be duplicating the work of the EuroFIR project in compiling its own data on food composition. Liisa responded that they were developing a database with some additional descriptors to cater for EFSA’s specific needs and added EuroFIR consortium members would be speaking at a colloquium in May 2010 to discuss the best use of food composition data.
The CEN Food Data Standard - GS1 & EuroFIR working together (PDF - 668 KB)
Loek Boortman, GS1, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Loek began by describing the work of GS1 and contrasting their focus to that of food composition data compilers in the amount of data they deal with and international nature of their business. He went on to present the work on the CEN food data standard that has progressed in partnership with the EuroFIR consortium and the Global Data Synchronisation Network which provides an integrated system of global standards for electronic trade, including information on food that is relevant and complementary to EuroFIR data specifications. The data in this case is principally from food labels and could potentially be made available worldwide. Finally, he spoke about future collaboration with the EuroFIR consortium and the opportunities to add complementary data and knowledge to the EuroFIR’s continuing work.
Food specification for consumers throughout mobile Internet – „The Proxi-Produit project”
René Le Caignec, QSN Technology/Institut Icare, Sierre, Switzerland
Rene presented the work of project based in France which aimed to provide consumers with more information about food and drink products via mobile phones. This works by taking a picture of the product with the phone’s camera and an application designed by the project then searches online for the product details and retrieves the basic product information for the consumer. The consumer can then request more specific information on, for example, the product’s nutritional composition, allergen content or carbon footprint. The information retrieved can also be personalised by the consumer. The information presented to the consumer must be in a form that does not overload them with data and a number of examples of current products available internationally were presented. It was highlighted that mobile phones are now used for much more than simply phone calls and that soon there will be more internet searches performed by phones than on computers.
Heikki Pakkala from the National Institute of Health and Welfare, Finland, asked how information on food can me made understandable for consumers within the 3 seconds that they typically spend looking at a label or other food information. Rene responded that reference data was needed for food and drink categories to be able to give simple information. Robert Van Gorcom from RIKILT – Institute of Food Safety in Wageningen in the Netherlands, asked how this type of work would be funded. Rene gave the example of Google, where industry pays to be featured as a ‘sponsored link’, but said that there would be a need to differentiate industry sponsored information from that from ‘trusted sources’.
EuroFIR’s eBASIS bioactive databank system for bioactive compounds with putative health benefits – Uses and future exploitation by EFSA and industry (PDF - 3,6 MB)
Dr. Mairead Kiely, University College Cork, Ireland
Mairead described the development of the EuroFIR eBASIS database, which contains data the composition and biological activity of bioactive compounds in plant foods. The quality of the data used is assessed and recorded as a quality code in the database by experts in the field. Usability testing of eBASIS has yielded positive scores with key user-groups. Current status of eBASIS was presented alongside future plans for development and the use of eBASIS to support health claims applications in Europe. The database was demonstrated, showing how foods and compounds could be searched for and the outputs obtained.
Liisa Valsta from EFSA asked about the progress on the composition side of the database. Mairead responded that they were looking to calculate the percent coverage of the data on bioactive composition in eBASIS and that this was likely to be high for rare compounds for which there are few publications, but for more common bioactives for which there are a much greater number of publications, coverage will be relatively lower. Heikki Pakkala from the National Institute of Health and Welfare, Finland, asked about the sustainability of the work on eBASIS. Mairead said that this would depend on funding and that more work might be completed under the EuroFIR Nexus project if funding was granted.
Harmonized nutrient databases in international nutritional studies: Experiences from the EPIC project and future opportunities with EuroFIR
Dr. Nadia Slimani, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France
Nadia began by emphasising the common needs of epidemiological studies and food consumption surveys in that they both rely on having standardised data on food composition for the countries or area in question. She described the development of the EPIC-SOFT programme and how this complements the work of EuroFIR and described possibilities for working with EuroFIR in the future including improving food data handling and food data linkage.
Aida Turrini from Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (INRAN), Italy raised the issue of food classification. Nadia said that there was currently a debate about the use of multi-purpose systems of food classification.
Sustainable exploitation of bioactive compounds from the Black Sea Area traditional foods (BaSeFood) – Utilising experiences and procedures from EuroFIR (PDF - 396 KB)
Prof. Filippo D’Antuonu, University of Bologna, Italy
Fillipo began by describing the structure and objectives of the BaSeFood project which include investigating current knowledge about foods from the Black Sea region, collecting data on the nutrient content of a selected group of traditional foods from the region and performing intervention studies in humans, animals studies and laboratory tests to assess the health effects of bioactive compounds in the foods of interest. He outlined how information from EuroFIR fed into the BaSeFood project including the work of the traditional foods work package and the development of the eBASIS database on bioactive compounds in plant foods. There are also a number of overlaps in methodology of the projects including the use of LanguaL, methods of recipe calculation and use of yield and nutrient retention factors.
EuroFIR AISBL – The future (PDF - 5,5 MB)
Paul Finglas & Simone Bell, EuroFIR AISBL, Belgium
Paul described how the work developed as part of the EuroFIR Network of Excellence would continue under the new non-profit organisation EuroFIR AISBL and is one of the few NoEs to achieve this kind of long-term sustainability. EuroFIR AISBL has now achieved SME status and its objectives are the scientific based development, publication and exploitation of food composition data and accompanying information in order to support and underpin research into food quality, food safety, and diet and health in Europe. The structure and membership status of the AISBL were described and the data and support it can provide outlined. The AISBL will also provide training and specialist consultancy services. Paul concluded the presentation by thanking Jurgen Lucas and Rosanna D’Amario from the European Commission who acted as the scientific officers for EuroFIR, for their help and support throughout the project.
Jürgen Lucas closed the meeting by saying that he was very happy to see that the last meeting of the project had brought EuroFIR’s stakeholders together. He praised the work that the project had done on dissemination and knowledge transfer which are especially important in light of the appointment of a new head of DG Research and a new Commissioner and finished by saying that he had been very pleased to act as Scientific Officer for the project.
1st EuroFIR AISBL General Assembly meeting
March 26th, 2010, meeting room of the Federation of European and International Associations (FAIB), Brussels, Belgium.