Food Identification & Description

Food descriptions

Clear, unambiguous food descriptions are essential to enable users to correctly identify and select foods required from a food composition database (FCDB) and to facilitate interchange of food composition data.


EuroFIR has established a common standard for the identification and description of foods in European FCDBs that allows for application of state-of-the-art concepts in database linking and management and their comparability as well as the comparison and interchange of food composition data. The food description system chosen was LanguaL (Langua aLimentaria or language of food), an international controlled vocabulary for systematic food description. EuroFIR has supported new versions of the LanguaL thesaurus, including the 2008 version.


In addition, prototype food description software, LanguaL Food Product Indexer, was developed to help FCDB compilers index the foods in their databases, and hence to allow record retrieval on the EuroFIR platform. Having attended specialised training courses on indexing using LanguaL, national compilers in the EuroFIR network have been undertaking the enormous task of indexing their food composition datasets. Over 29 European datasets have been indexed, covering over 29,000 foods. A number of specialised datasets, including EuroFIR-BASIS, and other datasets, such as the USDA dataset, have also been indexed. Indexing has been subject to quality assessment, taking account of both reproducibility and correctness. Compilers have also helped to improve the LanguaL thesaurus by providing feedback and by translating food names to local languages.