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FINAL REPORT - THIRD INTERNATIONAL FOOD DATA CONFERENCE


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
LIST OF ACRONYMS
1 INTRODUCTION
2 REPORT FROM THE ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
3 REPORT FROM THE FOOD SAMPLING AND PRIORITIES WORKSHOP
4 REPORT FROM THE BIOAVAILABILITY WORKSHOP
5 REPORT FROM THE DATA QUALITY ASSESSMENT AND INDICATORS WORKSHOP: DEVELOPING STANDARDS AND FORMATS
6 REPORT FROM THE WORKSHOP ON REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS

FAO
Rome, Italy
5-7 July 1999

Sponsored by:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),

The European Cooperation and Research Action on Food Consumption and Composition Data (COST Action 99/EUROFOODS),

The United Nations University (UNU),

The International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS)

The documents prepared for the Third International Food Data Conference "Back to Basics" are available on the Internet at the following address:

http://www.fao.org/infoods/announce/announ-e.htm

They may also be obtained from:
Dr Barbara Burlingame
Senior Officer, Nutrition Planning, Assessment and Evaluation Service (ESNA)
Economic and Social Department (ES)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, ITALY

E-mail: Barbara.Burlingame@fao.org

The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorized without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders. Applications for such permission should be addressed to the Chief, Publishing and Multimedia Service, Information Division, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy or by e-mail to copyright@fao.org

© FAO 2001

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The publication, Conclusions and Recommendations of the Third International Food Data Conference, was prepared by FAO to provide documentation of the issues, resources, expertise and leadership required for food composition programmes and projects.

Its aim is to focus attention on both progress and challenges in the ongoing effort to provide adequate food composition data for use in health, agriculture and trade sectors.

Overall leadership was provided by John R. Lupien, Director of the FAO Food and Nutrition Division (ESN), and Jean-Pierre Cotier, Chief of Nutrition Planning, Assessment and Evaluation Service (ESNA). Technical and editorial input was provided by Barbara Burlingame, Senior Officer, Food and Nutrition Assessment, and Nutrition Officers Irela Mazar and Robert Weisell. Administrative and secretarial assistance was provided by Fiona Best and Isabella McDonnell.

Guy Nantel, Zohrab Malek, Christian Baz, Simona Castelli, Kristina Holcikova (consultant), and Anders Moller (consultant) gave invaluable assistance at various stages of the work.

FAO extends special thanks to the Scientific Advisory Committee members, the local organizing committee, the IUNS/UNU Task Force, all session chairpersons, all speakers, and everyone who participated in the discussions and workshops from which these conclusions and recommendations were established.

The generous contribution from the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is gratefully acknowledged.

LIST OF ACRONYMS

AA

Amino Acids

ASEANFOODS

Association of Southeast Asian Networks of Food Data Systems

CEEC

Central and Eastern European Countries

COST Action 99/EUROFOODS

European Cooperation and Research Action on Food Consumption and Composition Data

CRM

Certified reference material

dK

2', 3'-dihydrophylloquinone

EU

European Union

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN

FCD

Food Composition Data

FBS

Food Balance Sheet

HPLC

High Performance Liquid Chromatography

ICN

International Conference on Nutrition (1992)

IDECG

International Dietary Energy Consultative Group

IFDC

International Food Data Conference

ILSI

International Life Sciences Institute

INFOODS

International Network of Food Data Systems

IUNS

International Union of Nutritional Sciences

LDC

Least Developed Countries

MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

NDL

Nutrient Data Laboratory of USDA

SAARCFOODS

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation on Food Data Systems

UNU

United Nations University

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

WFS

World Food Summit

WHO

World Health Organization

1 INTRODUCTION

From 5 to 7 July 1999, approximately 250 scientists from more than 60 countries attended the Third International Food Data Conference (IFDC) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy. Those in attendance included researchers, clinicians, academicians, health and agriculture policy-makers, food industry personnel and consumer representatives. The overall objectives were to discuss basic technical and scientific issues relevant to the analysis of foods, and the issues surrounding the preparation of the information for multiple purposes and users.

This Conference was preceded by two earlier ones: the First IFDC was held in Sydney, Australia from 22-24 September 1993 and the Second IFDC in Lahti, Finland from 28-30 August 1995. The first conference arose from the terms of reference of IUNS Committee II/4 Techniques for Measuring the Value of Foods for Man, "...to review techniques for the measurement of nutrients and other constituents in food...to improve and expand existing food composition data banks..." The success of the Sydney conference, under the convenorship of Professors Greenfield and Southgate, led to the resolution by the international food composition community to continue holding conferences on a biennial basis.

This Conference was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in cooperation with the European Cooperation and Research Action on Food Consumption and Composition Data (COST Action 99 / EUROFOODS), the United Nations University (UNU), and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS). Conclusions and recommendations from the various sessions were prepared and presented to the Conference for review and adoption. The conclusions and recommendations are presented in this report (multiple language versions are available).

More information on past and upcoming conferences can be found on the FAO Web site: http://www.fao.org/infoods.

The Conference opened by paying tribute to the late Dr David Buss of the United Kingdom, who was instrumental in advocating and advancing research on food composition and advocating the establishment of international food composition data systems.

2 REPORT FROM THE ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES


2.1 International Level Recommendations
2.2 Regional Level Recommendations
2.3 National Level Recommendations
2.4 Recommendations for the Next International Food Data Conference

The Round Table Discussion was held to address the special issues and problems faced by developing countries in establishing food composition programmes and projects. This half-day session was attended by delegates from numerous countries, representing all stages of development in food composition activities. Participating countries ranged from those with little or no experience in food composition analysis, to countries with well-functioning laboratories, comprehensive food composition databases and adequate numbers of technically trained experts. Thus the conclusions and recommendations cover very basic issues as well as more sophisticated topics. As each issue was discussed, solutions were proposed and debated. The consensus of the group was then summarised and drawn up as the following recommendations.

FAO gratefully acknowledges Drs Arne Oshaug and Miriam Muñoz de Chávez, the co-chairs of this session.

2.1 International Level Recommendations

It was generally agreed that:

2.2 Regional Level Recommendations

2.3 National Level Recommendations

2.4 Recommendations for the Next International Food Data Conference

3 REPORT FROM THE FOOD SAMPLING AND PRIORITIES WORKSHOP


3.1 Overview of Food Sampling
3.2 Critical Steps in the Food Sampling Process
3.3 Recommendations

The Food Sampling and Priorities Workshop was held on the afternoon of July 6. The Workshop was co-chaired by Joanne Holden from the United States of America, and Hettie Schönfeldt of South Africa. The participants first discussed a definition of food sampling, and then outlined the steps to be undertaken when conducting a food-sampling project. The workshop concluded with recommendations for improving food sampling.

3.1 Overview of Food Sampling

Food sampling is one of the most critical aspects of the process of generating food composition data. Sampling concerns the selection of the individual units of foods, food products or bulk foodstuffs from the food supply. The source of the food supply may be the marketplace, manufacturing outlet, field or home of the members in the study population. Sampling also concerns the selection of the representative aliquot from the individual unit of homogenized mixture in the laboratory just before analysis. While laboratory sampling requires the development and execution of standard procedures to maintain quality control, this workshop focused primarily on the selection of individual units from the food supply. Laboratory considerations were left for another venue.

3.2 Critical Steps in the Food Sampling Process

The following eight points outline the basic process for conducting a food sampling survey.

1) Determine the objectives for food sampling.

2) Define the demographic/geographic scope of the project.

3) Set priorities to determine which foods to sample and which food components to analyse.

4) Determine whether the food should be sampled in raw, cooked or processed form.

5) Develop a process for obtaining a representative sample of food selected for analysis.

6) Determine the number of samples required.

7) Outline a protocol for sample collection, including short-term preservation, transportation and storage of the sample from the collection site to the laboratory.

8) Develop a coding system for identification of all sample units.

3.3 Recommendations

Increase publications of studies involved in sampling foods from different countries and ethnic sub-groups.

4 REPORT FROM THE BIOAVAILABILITY WORKSHOP


4.1 Carotenoid Bioavailability
4.2 Folate Bioavailability
4.3 Vitamin K Bioavailability
4.4 Protein Quality

The subject of bioavailability in relation to food composition databases was discussed with the aim of formulating concrete recommendations for certain key nutrients. The nutrients discussed included vitamin K, carotenoids, folate and protein. The co-chairpersons for this session were Nikolai Rizov from Bulgaria and Delia Rodriguez-Amaya from Brazil.

4.1 Carotenoid Bioavailability

The Conference noted that the question of carotenoid bioavailability is confounded by a number of problems and uncertainties whose large number makes it extremely difficult to incorporate meaningful indicators of bioavailability in databases at the present time. However, newer approaches in assessing bioavailability are presently being applied and should bring better insight to this complicated subject. In addition, enhancement of bioavailability by food preparation is an important consideration although the diversity in cooking and processing practices around the world makes its appraisal complicated.

Recommendation

4.2 Folate Bioavailability

The Conference recommended that total folate by microbiological assay should be the preferred method of analysis for food composition data; and that food CRMs for total folate, now available, should be used routinely. Other methods (HPLC, antibody-based technologies) for the determination of folic acid in fortified foods and/or naturally occurring folates (individual forms) need further validation (including inter-laboratory studies and use of certified reference materials) before being adopted.

The Conference expressed concern over the current recommendations on Dietary Folate Equivalents in the United States and recommended their re-examination on the basis of 100% absorbability of supplemental folic acid.

The Conference noted the need to further harmonize the use of data quality systems for assessing the quality of published food folate data and their use at the international level and recommended the increased availability of funds for carrying out validation and harmonization.

Recommendations

4.3 Vitamin K Bioavailability

dK is present in sufficient amounts in the diet, and contributes an average of 35% of total Vitamin K intake. Although not as biologically active as phylloquinone, the Conference recommended that dK be included in food composition databases.

Recommendation

4.4 Protein Quality

The Conference noted that the Amino Acid (AA) Scoring Pattern from the 1981 Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation on Energy and Protein Requirements (1985 Report) is obsolete. New research has shown that for some individuals indispensable AA requirements are 2-3 times higher. This conclusion was supported by the proposal from the 1989 FAO/WHO Consultation on Protein Quality Evaluation (1991 Report) to abandon the scoring patterns from the 1985 Report on the basis of preliminary evidence from the stable isotopes studies conducted at MIT. As an interim measure, the 1985 AA patterns for pre-school children should be used to score protein quality for all age groups except infants.

The 1994 IDECG meeting in London on Protein and Energy Requirements agreed that the MIT estimates for leucine, isoleucine and valine and tryptophan were experimentally established, but the limiting AA in most LDC diets, lysine, could only be extrapolated. The report recommended that lysine be determined directly before the proposed MIT pattern can be accepted. In the meantime, the 1985 AA pattern for pre-school children should continue to be used. In light of the fact that the direct determination of lysine requirement by stable isotope methods has been completed at MIT and in Bangalore with excellent agreement of results, the Conference recommended that a new consultation be convened to establish a new international amino acid scoring pattern.

Protein Quality Recommendations

5 REPORT FROM THE DATA QUALITY ASSESSMENT AND INDICATORS WORKSHOP: DEVELOPING STANDARDS AND FORMATS


5.1 Discussion of Data Quality and Assessment
5.2 Recommendations

A workshop session was held in the afternoon of July 7 to discuss particular issues relevant to data quality and the development of data quality standards. The workshop was co-chaired by Dina Akkelidou from Cyprus and Paul Finglas of the United Kingdom.

5.1 Discussion of Data Quality and Assessment

Generally, participants felt that there was a need for better communication on an international level between analytical laboratories producing data, compilers of food composition tables and database users. The importance of quality control was discussed, with the suggestion that quality control measures be applied at all levels of the network to ensure that data of appropriate quality is entered into food composition databases.

Another important issue concerned the applied uses of data from food composition tables and databases. Data compiled in food composition databases are often of differing qualities; therefore, researchers and general users need to be aware of the limitations of each particular data set. The panel cited the fact that assumptions made when applying this information often do not take into account these limitations. The panel went on to point out that there is a Generic Expert System for assessing the quality of nutrient data. This has been pioneered by the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) for a number of nutrients including selenium, copper, carotenoids and dietary fibre. Recently, there has been collaboration between NDL and COST 99 in developing a system for folates.

The establishment of regional analytical laboratories to facilitate information transfer and exchange, to organize ring tests and to run training courses in all aspects of quality control and quality assurance, was recommended. It was noted that EU funds were available for European laboratories.

5.2 Recommendations

6 REPORT FROM THE WORKSHOP ON REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS

A workshop session on international dietary recommendations was held in the afternoon of July 7. The workshop was co-chaired by Osman Galal of the United States and Jayne Ireland of France. The aim of this workshop was primarily to review current international recommendations established by the IUNS and FAO/WHO for particular nutrients. Presentations included reviews of recommendations from FAO/WHO Expert Consultations on Fats and Oils and Carbohydrates. Following the presentations there was a discussion of the general issues. No concrete recommendations were generated.


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