Nordic co-operation on food information

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Title: Nordic co-operation on food information
Author: Valsta, Liisa; Pastell, Helena; Aalto, Sanni; Virtanen, Suvi
Contributor organization: Ruokavirasto
Finnish Food Authority
Publisher: Nordic Council of Ministers
Date: 2017
Language: en
Belongs to series: TemaNord
ISBN: 978-92-893-4843-0
ISSN: 0908-6692
Abstract: 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).
Subject: food composition
chemical analysis
Nordic co-operation
food composition database
Rights: CC BY-SA 4.0

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