Browsing by Subject "Nordic co-operation"

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  • Christensen, Tue; Nielsen, Cecilie Wirenfeldt; Valsta, Liisa; Aalto, Sanni; Haario, Peppi; Reinivuo, Heli; Virtanen, Suvi; Pastell, Helena; Nieminen, Janne; Reykdal, Ólafur; Axelsson, Cecilia; Petrelius-Sipinen, Jessica; Kielland, Ellen; Østerholt Dalane, Jorån; Hauger Carlsen, Monica; Salupuu, Kristin; Jõgi, Änn (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2020)
    This report describes the activities of two projects that were carried out using the infrastructure of the Nordic Food Analysis Network, i.e. the ‘Nordic Food Composition Data for Labelling (NordCoLa)’ project carried out between 2018 and 2020, and the preceding project ‘Fostering the quality and use of Nordic food composition data’, carried out under the Finnish Presidency of the NCM in 2016. The primary aim of the NordCoLa project was to evaluate the needs, synergies and critical points of the Nordic FCDBs (e.g. food ingredient and nutrient value gaps) in relation to the composition data to be used to implement the new European nutrient labelling legislation. This was to ensure quality food composition data in the Nordic countries for food producers and other users for nutrient labelling purposes. The most important gaps were evaluated and summarised by this project. This project included an exercise comparing calculated and analysed nutrient information of selected Nordic food samples. This information was then compared with the acceptable tolerance limits in use in the EU. As part of the projects, two open seminars were organised in Helsinki; the first one on 16 October 2016 and the second on 17 April 2019. The seminars gathered a total of around 150 participants together to hear about challenges in the area of food composition data and their use in food labelling and related quality issues. In addition, the project included research on food label information in order to evaluate the usefulness of the Mintel Global New Products’ Database (Mintel GNPD) and GS1 in the work of updating and compiling information used in food composition databases. The network’s main conclusions and strategical proposals are as follows: • There is a need for more analyses and continuous compiling work in order to ensure updated FCDBs for the users. Opportunities for Nordic collaboration in food analyses should be carefully evaluated. • More industrial ingredients need to be analysed and added to FCDBs. Obtaining such information is important to keep the databases useful, especially for SMEs in the food business. • The calculated values are of overall good quality when compared with analysed values, with the exception of protein, sugars and salt. This warrants more attention to take carbohydrates and especially simple sugars into account when planning future national food analysis programmes. Collecting more information on salt content and comparing it with the analysed information on food products is also needed. • There is no legislation for the methods to be used in the food analysis. This means that different methods are used and even different components may be measured resulting variation in nutrient contents. Sugars are an example of that, since different techniques measure total sugar content or different 7 sugar components separately and both ways are accepted for labelling purposes. • Calculating nutrient contents of food items according to a standardised method is a good and affordable way of producing values for food composition databases and food labelling purposes, if the data quality of the FCDBs are based on analysed values. • The acceptable variation in nutrient label information based on EC legislation tolerances is very large. The tolerances may even threaten the meaningful reformulation of food products and reliable consumer information due to uncertainties over the labelled nutrient values. • More information is needed regarding the validity of nutrient labelling at the Nordic and European level. To avoid misleading consumer information, food analyses should be used to check the validity of nutrient labelling and to monitor reformulation efforts. • Nutrient label data from commercial food label databases, for example, is not recommended to be used, in general, for updating nutrient values of foods in the national FCDBs. However, such databases were found to be partially useful in updating the coverage, i.e. food lists of national FCDBs, if the used databases cover most of the national market. • Nordic collaboration should be further intensified in the fields of analysing nutrient content of missing ingredients in FCDBs, harmonising nutrient label calculation procedures and proposing improvements to the European legislation concerning tolerances of nutrient values in labelling.
  • Valsta, Liisa; Pastell, Helena; Aalto, Sanni; Virtanen, Suvi (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2017)
    Quality of food composition information is of great significance considering the vast and important use of the data: for national dietary advice, for food nutrient labelling, and in epidemiological research. In order to have good quality data for foods consumed in the Nordic countries, sampling and analysis of food needs to be performed to determine the nutrient composition of interest. The Nordic Food Analysis Network project (NFAN), that was carried out between 2013–2016, focused on creating a common, simple communicational platform to share history and plans on chemical food analyses. In addition, it focused on sharing developments in the areas of new analytical methods, especially of dietary fibre, iodine and sodium (i.e. salt). An extranet site was set up, where partners updated their chemical food analysis activities, for others to observe and be aware of. The platform was found to be informative, although updating it was sometimes found to be cumbersome or forgotten. This kind of activity needs active coordination to become useful. Also, comparative analyses of fibre, iodine and sodium concentrations of selected Nordic foods were carried out with external funds and the results were shared, discussed and disseminated among the project group and a broader audience. The comparative analyses showed diverging results, even when the same analytical methods and procedures are used. A comparison, organized by the network, of the conditions in the different countries, showed several reasons for this. The main reasons for different nutrient compositions between the countries was found to be differences in fortification programmes and in animal feeding practices between the countries. The NFAN network organized three physical meetings and one open satellite symposium during the project, which served as platforms to update the partners on national developments in the field and discuss future visions – even wild ideas. The meetings were highly appreciated, partly due to the fact that the critical mass of competence, both for food composition data compilers and food chemists at the national level, in all Nordic countries, is declining. The discussions not only focused on the tasks of this project, but also served as a forum to discuss the broader challenges in the area as well as strategies to better disseminate food data and how to improve the dialogue between data providers from the food industry, and the data users and other stakeholders. For future actions, the Network has recommended that: 1) The Nordic countries should continue to keep each other informed about chemical food analysis plans to facilitate possible common analyses and to facilitate other synergistic activities and method development. Moreover, there is a continuous need for a well-structured and simple-to-use communicational platform in the future, where all the information is stored and updated. 2) New chemical analysis data should be compiled in the food composition databases and be more widely used in the future. 3) The background information on the analysed nutrient values, e.g. the sampling procedures, methods, sample description (e.g. fortification practices, animal feeding practices in the country) are crucial for the data users, and therefore, should be disseminated together with the values. 4) A common Nordic training programme for young actors in the fields of chemical food analysis and food composition data compilation should be considered, to assure high quality outputs, in the future. 5) Harmonization efforts for the production of food composition information, according to established guidelines (e.g. Greenfield & Southgate, 2003) and updated rules to calculate the activity of nutrients (Institute of Medicine 2000, Nordic Council of Ministers 2012), should be continued. 6) Re-evaluation of the rules and procedures for use of existing food composition data should be carried out. This could be done by performing an updated evaluation on the handling of the nutrient values, i.e. to carry out an update of the former Norfoods 2000 project (Norfoods 2000-project group, 2002).