Harmonisation and standardisation

Creating harmony

A fundamental aim of EuroFIR has been the harmonisation and standardisation of work on food composition data in Europe. Development of the EuroFIR databank platform requires that databases are established according to common principles and are presented in a uniform way.

To achieve this, EuroFIR has established and implemented:
  • Indexing of foods using LanguaL
  • Documentation of values using the EuroFIR thesauri, which include common component definitions and analytical method description
  • Common procedures for recipe calculation and nutrient retention factors
  • Quality evaluation systems

A European Standard

EuroFIR is therefore supporting the development of a European standard for food composition data. This standard will facilitate access to and exchange of comparable, high quality food composition data for industry, regulators and researchers across Europe.

European Committee for Standardisation

Following a successful proposal to the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), a CEN/TC 387 project committee on Food Composition Data was launched in 2008. The committee, which will develop the new standard, is led by Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and the Swedish National Food Administration (NFA). As well as the EuroFIR Consortium, the Committee will work in close collaboration with GS1 Sweden and other stakeholders representing the Swedish food section. The GS1 system is an integrated system of global standards (including the Global Data Synchronization Network) that provides for accurate identification and communication of information regarding products, assets, services and locations. In particular, the GS1 Food and Beverage Extension contains a range of information on foods that is relevant to several of the terms in LanguaL. This collaboration with GS1 will enhance the coverage and uptake of the standard.

Technical specification

The proposed standard is a technical specification that will cover data structure of food composition databases and interchange of food composition data, including:
  • Identification, description, classification and labelling of foods and ingredients
  • Values for the amounts of measurable, estimated or calculated nutrients and other components
  • Specifications of methods used for obtaining these values
  • References to sources for the information reported
It includes the various steps in generation and publication of such data (e.g. sampling, analysis, food description, food property and value description. The standard includes requirements on semantics and data structure for food data, controlled vocabularies, and XML encoding for interchange of food data. However, the scope does not include food description methods, quality assessment methods, content of controlled vocabularies (e.g. food components such as nutrients), or database implementation, such as table and field names. The first working draft of the standard was produced in August 2009. Based on the usual timeframe for development of standards, national implementation is anticipated by 2012.