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Section I

National and International Food Composition Programs

The Conference was opened by Senator the Honorable Graham F. Richardson, Minister for Health. The Session was chaired by Professor A. Stewart Truswell, Boden Professor of Human Nutrition, University of Sydney, in his capacity as Vice-President of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences.

A keynote address was delivered by J. Lupien of the Food Policy and Nutrition Division, Food and Agriculture Organization, entitled Developing Comprehensive Policies and Programs for Improved Food Supplies and Nutrition, and this address was followed by papers by D. Slamet on The Food Composition Program of Indonesia: Past, Present and Future and L. Masson on CHILEFOODS: Food Composition Activities in Chile and Latin America, which are published on the following pages along with a print version of the poster entitled Nutrient Composition of Wild-Gathered Foods from Mali by M.B. Nordeide, A. Oshaug and H. Holm.

Posters displayed after Session I also were:

Developing Comprehensive Policies and Programs for Improved Food Supplies and Nutrition

John R. Lupien

Food Policy and Nutrition Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00100, Italy

In developing comprehensive policies and programs for improved food supplies and nutrition, governments need accurate information on food composition. The International Conference on Nutrition (ICN) 1992 emphasized food composition in its consideration of ways to improve household food security, prevent and control micronutrient deficiencies, assess, analyze and monitor nutrition situations and enhance food quality and safety. This paper summarizes the leading role FAO plays in international food and nutrient composition databases: developing global guidelines and standards; introducing food composition into countries' development activities; setting guidelines for laboratory facilities; disseminating standard techniques and references to improve analytical quality; supporting Codex Alimentarius, USDA and AOAC INTERNATIONAL; training in analytical techniques and data compilation; and documenting legal aspects of food composition. The potential role of FAO in collaboration with INFOODS and the Flair Eurofoods-Enfant Project in evaluating data quality and use; food nomenclature and foods to be included in nutrient databases; and criteria for setting food and nutrient data priorities is highlighted.

The International Conference on Nutrition (ICN) held in Rome from 5–11, 1992, encompassed nine themes, three of which are related to food composition work (1). These three themes were improving household food security, preventing and controlling specific micronutrient deficiencies and assessing, analyzing and monitoring nutrition situations. A government cannot make informed decisions regarding the food supply and meeting the food and nutritional needs of the population through an improved food supply without an understanding of the food that is eaten, particularly in the area of combating micronutrient deficiencies.

• International Work in Food Composition

An initial step in planning food supplies is to assess the energy and nutrient situation by determining the composition of the diet. For this purpose the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) developed its expertise and reputation in international food composition with the development of the Food Balance Sheets. This work led to the production of regional food composition tables, the last being the Near East tables, published in by FAO in 1982 (2).

FAO is committed to maintaining its leadership role in the area of international food and nutrient composition databases. To this end a two-day meeting was held from 14–15 December 1992, hosted by FAO in Rome, with additional funding assistance from INFOODS, a UNU project, and the Flair EUROFOODS-Enfant Project (funded by the European Community). The participants at this meeting and subsequent forums welcomed FAO's renewed activity in international food composition and recognized its comparative advantage in developing worldwide guidelines and standards as well as the opportunity to introduce food composition into the overall development activities of the country.

Specifically FAO can be instrumental in setting guidelines for improving planning for laboratory facilities; improving analytical quality through the dissemination of standard techniques including inter-laboratory tests and reference materials; supporting the work of Codex Alimentarius, AOAC INTERNATIONAL and national laboratories involved in determining the composition of foods in identifying protocols for suitable, yet cheaper analytical techniques; supporting the education and training for composition work related to sampling, analytical techniques, and data compilation, through publications and programs at country level; providing documentation on the legal aspects of food composition data and their use in various jurisdictions which would assist the documentation required for food analysis and data quality.

A number of areas exist in international food composition work that require future input and attention. These include: evaluation of data quality and the need to relate the quality of the data to the use for which they are intended; food nomenclature and foods to be included in nutrient databases; criteria for setting food and nutrient data priorities.

As part of the follow-up activity to the ICN, FAO is initiating work at the developing country level in the areas mentioned above. In addition a joint FAO and UNU meeting in Tunis in March, 1994, has evaluated the progress in international food composition activities since the Bellagio meeting in 1983 (3) and formulated a long-term program of work suitable for attracting outside funding and participation.

• Policies and Programs to Improve Nutrition

The title of this paper suggests that policies and programs in many countries are not comprehensive enough to improve nutrition. In fact better nutritional status depends on the kind of coordination across agricultural, health, educational, trade and development policies, that is rarely achieved. In part this situation occurs because the link between these policies and improved nutritional status is not clear. Of course all countries have policies that affect nutrition in some way, and the challenge is to find ways that enhance the piecemeal effects of separate initiatives into a larger sum.

There is agreement on a number of general policy orientations to improve nutritional status. For example, agricultural policies must be oriented towards rational and effective development of better food supplies, including the production, processing and effective marketing of all of the elements of an adequate and nutritionally balanced diet. Health policies must give specific attention to a wide range of preventive activities, such as immunization, vitamin and mineral supplementation of vulnerable groups such as infants and pregnant or nursing women, and effective treatment of diarrhoeal diseases. Agricultural and health policies must stress the assurance of adequate food quality and safety from the point of production, through harvesting, storage, processing/preservation and marketing. Educational policies must assure adequate basic education for all, and include appropriate elements of nutrition education for all, in elementary and secondary schools, and for use in the mass media.

• International Conference on Nutrition

The extent to which these policies reinforce the separate impacts they have will determine the kind of improvement in nutritional status that may be expected. In this context it is important to discuss the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN) which was held in Rome during December 1992. Well before the Conference started, the two sponsoring agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), met together to decide which were the basic policy elements and activities necessary to improve nutrition for all and to define the objectives of the ICN in this regard. Needless to say, the issues were complex and expressed in many and varying views. However, after extended discussions it was clearly agreed that proper nutritional status depends on the effective preparation and implementation of a wide range of agricultural, health, educational, trade and development policies, carried out by a variety of government agencies, academia, industry and the public at large.

During the ICN, discussions were organized according to the following nine themes:

These themes form the basis for vertical and potentially free-standing activities. They are in effect the essential elements of policy which must be considered, formulated and implemented in each country. A number of cross-cutting, or broad, issues discussed at the ICN provide important integration of policies and activities. These issues included education, environmentally sound and sustainable development, gender and population concerns, and resource allocation in the implementation of specific nutrition improvement activities.

In discussing these general and specific themes it became clear that implementing effective nutrition improvement activities needs to be inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary, if sustained success is to be attained.

• The Need for Food Composition Data

The fundamental importance of knowledge about the composition of food in the themes discussed at the ICN was recognized by FAO, and the Food Policy and Nutrition Division has reactivated work on food composition as one part of a number of activities initiated to follow-up on the ICN resolutions. FAO is currently committed to working with all of the agencies and professionals active in food composition in an effort to make more reliable data available worldwide.

Food composition work does not only depend on the global ICN objectives, but is in a real sense needed to support projects and interventions to improve nutrition. Information on the nutritional composition of food is essential for the provision of adequate and appropriate diets for individuals and populations. In this context food composition data are a major requirement for action in nutrition education, interventions on micro-nutrients, nutritional support for health care plans, food trade, food labeling and regulations, and the integration of nutrition concerns in agricultural policies.

Given that this variety of actions is implemented by a wide range of ministries and agencies, the uses and limitations of data on food composition need to be clear. A large number of users therefore require reliable and unambiguously labeled data and FAO can make a particular contribution in this area. In addition, the common use of data in different policy arenas will help in some ways to promote the kind of integration of action referred to earlier.

• Collaboration in Food Composition

FAO published a number of international food composition tables in the 1960's and 1970's for use in regions such as Latin America, Asia, the Near East, and Africa (4, 5, 6). The work was carried out in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) in Guatemala. Following the production of these publications FAO and its Food Policy and Nutrition Division de-emphasized international activities on food composition for several years and other agencies increased their activities in this area.

Important progress in food composition has been made over the last ten years, in large part due to the International Food Data Systems Project, or INFOODS. Their publications contain the basis for world-wide standards in the development of food composition development (7, 8, 9, 10).

But perhaps an even more crucial contribution by INFOODS is the regional system of data generation and management for food composition data. Relying on a few key institutions around the world that are capable of coordinating a variety of food composition activities on a regional basis, INFOODS has greatly expanded the support for food composition work in developing countries. FAO intends to cooperate fully with INFOODS to participate in, and build on, such regional networks in future activities.

At the same time, the EUROFOODS group has achieved exemplary improvements in food composition data used in Europe as a result of improving the quality and compatability of the data from many sources, cultural environments and jurisdictions. The experience of EUROFOODS demonstrates the procedures which may be used in promoting the collaboration of countries in other regions of the world.

Particularly important are the advances of EUROFOODS in data quality related to food nomenclature and food coding systems that were developed to integrate the national food composition databases of European countries. For example, the names of foods in different European countries may be the same, but refer to products with a different formulation. Conversely, different food names may refer to the same food, but express differences in culturally determined food preparation. The achievement of the EUROFOODS group in maintaining data quality in the face of such diversity has provided those who are faced with integrating food composition databases in their own regions with important examples and lessons.

• FAO's Strengthened Food Composition Program

The overall purpose of FAO's program in food composition is to promote the generation and dissemination of reliable food composition data that meets the needs of local users, or at least at national level. The work itself will be implemented in collaboration with other agencies, institutions and groups, according to the following program objectives:

In order to achieve these objectives, FAO has several ongoing activities and will start new ones. The most important of these include:

• Changes in Food Composition Data

It is interesting to note that over time food composition data have changed not only because of improved analytical techniques and better knowledge of representative sampling, but also because of real changes in the formulation of foods. For example, the plethora of low fat/low energy products with sensory characteristics of full fat formulations, have the potential to lower the fat intakes of people in many developed countries. Or, the dwindling choice in variety of potatoes in several developing countries since the last century to leave only a few commonly used ones, which reduces the variability in nutrient intake from potatoes and can reduce the food security for several population groups.

We know some of the factors that determined these changes, as well as others. These factors demonstrate the interrelationships between the agriculture, health, education and trade that can potentially affect nutritional status. The positive effects should be the objectives of interventions at any level of government or international cooperation. The detrimental effects of such changes need to be avoided or minimized, especially for disadvantaged groups.

• Conclusion

The integrated nature of actions to improve nutrition shows the wide range of coordinated work which needs to be done and the importance of food composition activities to overall efforts. Nutrition problems cannot be resolved by nutritionists alone, or by the use of one policy strategy or one program approach. Each initiative intended to improve nutrition needs to be based on the theory and experience appropriate to it, and implemented with explicit expectations for nutritional improvement. The development of reliable, internationally comparable food composition data is one crucial element in achieving this integration and FAO is fully committed to that goal.

• References

(1)   FAO & WHO (1992) Final Report of the International Conference on Nutrition, Rome

(2)   FAO (1982) Food Composition Tables for the Near East, Rome

(3)   Rand, W., & Young, V. (1983) Food Nutr. Bull. 5, 15–76

(4)   INCAP-ICNND (1961) Food Composition Table for Use in Latin America, Interdepartmental Committee on Nutrition for National Defense, Washington, & Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama, Guatemala

(5)   FAO (1970) Food Composition Tables for Use in Africa, Rome

(6)   FAO (1972) Food Composition Tables for Use in East Asia, Rome

(7)   Klensin, J.C., Feskanich, D., Lin, V., Truswell, A.S., & Southgate, D.A.T. (1989) Identification of Food Components for INFOODS Data Interchange, UNU Press, Tokyo

(8)   Rand, W.M., Pennington, J.A.T., Murphy, S.P., & Klensin, J.C. (1992) Compiling Data for Food Composition Data Bases, UNU Press, Tokyo

(9)   Klensin, J.C. (1992) INFOODS Food Composition Data Interchange Handbook, UNU Press, Tokyo

(10) Greenfield, H., & Southgate, D.A.T. (1992) Food Composition Data. Production, Management and Use, Elsevier Applied Science, London

(11) FAO & UNU (1994) Report of Discussions on Food Composition for Developing Countries (in press)

The Food Composition Program of Indonesia: Past, Present and Future

Dewi S. Slamet

Nutrition Research and Development Center, Bogor, Indonesia

Indonesia is a country of diverse geography, culture and dietary patterns. The national food and nutrition policy aims to achieve food self-sufficiency, and diversification of food supplies and food consumption. For this reason the need for complete, accurate and up-to-date food composition tables has been recognized. This paper reports the progress towards this goal.

Indonesia is an archipelago of some 13,000 islands with an aggregate land area of 1,900,000 km2 (Figure 1). The population of Indonesia is about 180 million, of which about 80 per cent live in rural areas. Thousands of kinds of foods are available in Indonesia. The staple foods are rice, maize, sago, cassava and sweet potato, and the diet can be classified according to three distinct consumption patterns, namely (a) rice pattern (West Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan); (b) rice and maize pattern (Central and East Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Nusa Tenggara Islands, with cassava being consumed especially by the low income groups in all these regions); (c) sago and sweet potato pattern in Maluku and Irian Jaya (1, 2).

The Food and Nutrition Policy of the Fifth Five Year Nutritional Development Plan (1989–1994) is aimed towards achieving food self-sufficiency and the diversification of the food supply and consumption, i.e. away from total reliance on rice. A recommendation arising from the Fourth National Workshop on Nutrition in Jakarta, June 1988, was made to assist this aim. This recommendation embraced the need to improve and develop information available to nutritionists including food composition tables, so that nutrition education directed towards broadening food choice could be carried out. Thus Indonesia fully recognized the need for complete, accurate and up-to-date food composition data as an important tool in developing the entire range of food and nutrition research and activities in the country.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Map of Indonesia

• Historical Background of Food Composition Tables in Indonesia

The first food composition tables (FCT), in Indonesia were produced by the Institute of Volksvoedings (1930–1940), during the Dutch occupation, from the data available at that time. In the period between the liberation of Indonesia in 1945 up to 1967, the name of FCT of Indonesia changed several times. Since 1967 the FCT of Indonesia were called Daftar Komposisi Banan Makanan (DKBM), compiled by the Directorate of Nutrition Department of Health and published by Bhratara Jakarta (3rd printing, 1981). Most of the analytical data were generated by the Nutrition Institute since 1950 and some were taken from other international FCT. The tables contained 410 food items of which 283 were raw foods.

From 1970 till the present time the Nutrition Research and Development Centre (NRDC), Department of Health, Bogor, has been the only institution in Indonesia conducting the analyses of the nutrient composition of foods, with the specific objective of producing the national Indonesian FCT. Analytical data for 483 food items, raw, processed and prepared, obtained from various regions of Indonesia, have been produced for several nutrients: moisture, protein, total fat, carbohydrate (by difference), calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, carotenes, thiamin, ascorbic acid and total energy. The 483 food items included 10 per cent snacks, 5 per cent fermented foods, and 1 per cent dried, salted fish. Only 116 food items were analyzed for amino acids and niacin (3, 4).

• Recent Activities in Generation and Compilation of Indonesian Food Composition Data

Food analyses are also carried out at the following institutions such as the Indonesian Institute of Science, the National Institute for Chemistry, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Trade, Department of Industry, the Atomic Energy Agency and private laboratories (e.g. food industry). The analyses carried out in these laboratories are limited by their functions and their facilities. In many cases the analytical data produced cannot be used for food composition tables since the data cannot easily be related to the food as consumed.

To generate and compile the food composition data to produce Indonesian FCT, a meeting between all interested parties was needed. Therefore in 1984, to tackle the problem of food composition data, a meeting was organized by the NRDC in Bogor, involving all the various government institutions which had a special interest in food composition data. The meeting was attended by about 19 representatives from 12 institutions. The meeting agreed that: the available DKBM should be revised to fulfil the increasing needs related to the Nutrition Program; the name of the DKBM should be changed to Komposisi Zat Gizi Pangan Indonesia (KZGPI); and the tables should contain nutrients such as proximate constituents, minerals and vitamins, analyzed per 100 g edible portion. Priority should be given to those foods most commonly consumed by the people. These data would be most needed for the Food and Nutrition Program (5).

Similar meetings were organized also by the Research and Development Centre for Applied Chemistry (LIPI) in 1986 in Bandung, to review the existing problems which included updating the existing food composition data, development of food composition data systems, quality assurance programs for food analyses and a food composition network (6).

Also of importance was a workshop held under the auspices of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Sub-committee on Protein and Food Habits Research and Development in Jakarta, 20–23 October, 1986, and attended by representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. This technical workshop on food composition data was an initial activity towards the development of the ASEAN Food Data Network (7). The workshop was an important step towards a united effort to systematize, standardize and update the generation and compilation of food composition data in the ASEAN countries and to facilitate the interchange and use of the data throughout the region. Special objectives were adopted such as to exchange and share information on current trends in food composition data generation and compilation, and to develop a plan to standardize sampling, methods of analyses and compilation of food composition data in the ASEAN countries.

Further regional progress was made at the next ASEAN workshop on food data systems held in Bangkok, 25–27 October 1989, funded by Japan. The Indonesian representative reported the current activities of the food composition program in Indonesia (8). These activities continued under national guidance, the most recent being a small workshop on nutritive composition of foods conducted by the Nutrition Research and Development Centre at Bogor, March 22–24, 1990 (9).

• Current Status

A collaborative food composition program has recently been carried out between the NRDC and the Directorate of Nutrition. The data obtained were compiled together with the food analytical work previously done by NRDC from 1970 to 1989 and published in journals (10–17). This new set of KZGPI was published in 1990 by the Directorate of Nutrition and NRDC (18). These tables contain nutrients for raw, processed, traditional and fast foods. The foods were analyzed for proximate composition, minerals and vitamins. The table is divided according to food groups: Table A, the nutritional composition of cereals, tubers, nuts, legumes, vegetables, fruits, eggs, fish and miscellaneous (total of 281 raw food items); Table B, the nutrient composition of processed and fast foods, (total of 153 food items); Table C, riboflavin and niacin content of foods (total of 142 food items); Tables D and E, essential and non-essential amino acids of 71 food items (18).

Advice on compiling FCT, preparing a manual of food composition analyses, and equipping the laboratory for future work was provided by Associate Professor Heather Greenfield, from Australia, who was invited by the National Institute for Health Research and Development as a consultant. The revised and expanded manual was published in 1990 by the Directorate of Nutrition and NRDC (19), and includes information on food sampling, sections on direct analysis of sugars, starch, total dietary fibre, fatty acids and cholesterol, as well as a chapter on quality assurance.

Presently, there are three FCTs available in Indonesia: DKBM (20); KZGPI (18); and DABM. The DABM (Daftar Analisa Bahan Makanan) has been published by the Medical Faculty of the University of Indonesia, Jakarta and is comprised of data compiled mainly from international FCT (21).

• Future Program

Indonesia has recognized that the past and present available data of food composition are inadequate both in terms of food items and nutrients and other food constituents. Furthermore in the last decade, Indonesia has grown rapidly in the realm of research and technology, with particular emphasis in the field of food technology, resulting in a rapid development of the local food industry. These food manufacturers produce processed foods, fast foods, and new food formulas. The development of new techniques in the production and processing of foods and the availability of a demand for new food products have created dramatic changes in the food consumption pattern of the population, particularly in urban areas. These situations may have a negative or positive effect on the nutritional status of the Indonesian people.

Because of the need to provide family income, men and women work long hours and may not have enough time to prepare food at home. Most employed men and women have their meals outside of the home, and the quality of food consumed depends on the environment and the capacity to buy food. Nutritional information about pre-prepared and street foods is in great demand.

According to the Department of Health, Indonesia currently still has four main nutritional problems, i.e. vitamin A deficiency, protein energy malnutrition, iron deficiency and iodine deficiency. These are still prevalent in the poorer areas of eastern Indonesia which require more urgent attention. At the same time as changes in environmental and economic conditions occur, other nutritional problems are also arising in Indonesia such as degenerative disease (coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer), possibly related to the dietary changes caused by alterations in food habits. Processed foods might be higher in animal fats, cholesterol, sugars, salt, and food contaminants (including potentially carcinogenic substances) than traditional foods. Knowledge of the nutrient composition of foods forms the backbone of clinical therapeutic diets. These are important in the management of diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. Without knowledge of nutrient composition data dietitians and nutritionists in government health agencies would be unable to assess the adequacy of patients' diets and the nutrient intake of the people. The FCT would be used to calculate the nutrients of a typical daily intake, and based on these calculations nutrient intakes could be compared to the Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDI). If there appears to be a tendency of low or excessively high intake of any nutrient, advice and diet plans could be supplied by the dietitian or the nutritionist.

A new project of the Nutrition Research and Development Centre will analyze the macro-nutrients, micro-nutrients and fatty acids of various food items (especially traditional foods, fast foods and foods from marine resources) in collaboration with other research institutions. This project will produce new information on Indonesian foods, e.g. sugars, dietary fiber and ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids. The project will require additional equipment (such as LC and GLC) and more trained food analysts, as well as a high degree of collaboration between laboratories.

In the future, as recommended at the 5th National Nutrition Conference held in Jakarta, April 20–22, 1993, the government has decided that Indonesia should possess an up-to-date Indonesian national food composition table incorporating all the latest data. In the last decade there has been increasing interest in food composition data in relation to diets, food habits and degenerative diseases. The next FCT will be critical to the success of projects in these areas as well as other aspects of the Food and Nutrition Program.

• References

(1)   Karyadi, D., & Hermana (1985) in Proceedings of the First Asian Foods Conference, Bangkok, pp. 56–58

(2)   Lie, G.H., Hermana, Suwardi, & Ismyati, S. (1978) Proceedings of First ASEAN Seminar - Workshop on Food Habits, Manila, pp. 34–39

(3)   Greenfield, H. (1991) Study of Nutritive Composition of Foods in Indonesia, World Health Organization SEARO, New Delhi

(4)   Slamet, D.S., & Tarwotjo (1980) Penelitian Gizi dan Makanan 4, 21–23

(5)   Workshop on Food Composition Data (1984) Bogor

(6)   Slamet, D.S. (1986) in Workshop on Food Composition Data, Bandung

(7)   Workshop for the ASEAN Food Composition Table, (1986) Jakarta

(8)   Sumardi (1989) in Proceedings of the ASEAN Workshop on Food Data Systems, Bangkok, pp.104– 108

(9)   Slamet, D.S. (1990) in Workshop of Indonesian Food Composition Tables, Bogor

(10) Slamet, D.S., & Purawisastra (1979) in Proceedings of Food Technology Meeting, Jakarta, pp. 158–175

(11) Slamet, D.S., & Komari (1985) Media Teknologi Pangan 1, 56–60

(12) Slamet, D.S., & Komari (1986) Penelitian Gizi dan Makanan 9, 63–76

(13) Slamet, D.S., & Komari (1986) Penelitian Gizi dan Makanan 9, 77–84

(14) Slamet, D.S., & Ubaidillah (1987) Penelitian Gizi dan Makanan 10, 77–81

(15) Slamet, D.S., & Ubaidillah (1988) Penelitian Gizi dan Makanan 11, 59–73

(16) Slamet, D.S., Komari, & Ubaidillah (1988) Penelitian Gizi dan Makanan 12, 58–71

(17) Study on Nutritive Composition of Foods (1990) Directorate of Nutrition and Nutrition Research and Development Center, Bogor

(18) Mahmud, M.K., Slamet, D.S., Apryantono, R.R., & Hermana (1990) The Indonesian Food Composition Table, Directorate of Nutrition and Nutrition Research and Development Center, Bogor

(19 Slamet, D.S., Mahmud, M.K., Muhilal, Fardiaz, P., & Sumarmata, J.P. (1990) Manual of Food Analysis, Directorate of Nutrition and Nutrition Research and Development Center, Bogor

(20) Directorate of Nutrition, Department of Health (1987) Food Composition Table, Bhratara Karya Aksra, Jakarta

(21) Oei, K.N. (1992) Nutrient Analysis Tables for Food, University of Indonesia, Jakarta

CHILEFOODS: Food Composition Activities in Chile and Latin America

Lilia Masson

University of Chile, Department of Food Science and Chemical Technology, Casilla 233, Santiago 1, Chile

This paper describes the history and coverage of the food composition tables of Chile The computerization of the most recent tables is discussed, together with the development of software packages to access and use the database. The links with food composition activities in other Latin American countries, via the LATINFOODS network, are also covered.

Chile is a modern country situated in the South West extreme of South America. It can be considered the longest country in the world with more than 4,000 km of Pacific Ocean coastline. It is narrow with a mean width of about 180 km. The total area is estimated as 1,992,000 km2; 740,000 km2 represents the continental area plus different islands including Easter Island while 1,250,000 km2 corresponds to the Antarctic territory (Figure 1).

The total population is about 13 million, most of whom are concentrated in the central zone of the country. The Metropolitan Region, where the capital Santiago is located, has about 5 million residents, representing about 40 per cent of the total population.

Chile is mainly an urban country, with about 87 per cent of the total population living in cities and the remaining 13 per cent living in rural areas. Literacy levels are high at 92 per cent. The Chilean population is a mixture of people from Spain and other European Countries together with people of indigenous ancestry. The latter are mainly in the Araucania Region (about 200,000 Araucanos or Mapuches) and the First Region close to the border with Bolivia and Perú (Aymará natives), while the inhabitants of Easter Island are mainly Polynesian.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Chile regions

In South America the countries of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay have a mainly European ethnic influence, while in the other Latin American countries, a high predominance of people of indigenous or other ethnic origins is found.

Latin America has supplied many of its different native foods to the rest of the world. The 18 native foods from Latin America which have found their way around the world are: maize, tomatoes, aji or chilli, palta or avocado, beans, potatoes which are from Perú and Chile, lupin, quinoa, tapioca, yuca, pineapple, cocoa, banana, coconut, lucuma, chirimoya, papaya (the last three from Ecuador, Perú and Chile) and strawberries from Chile. All of these foods are still very important in the Latin American diet and are an integral part of the Chilean diet, with the exception of yuca and tapioca which are confined to the Amazonian Region. In general the Chilean diet is homogeneous throughout the country, with typical meals being prepared from maize, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and chilli.

The main cereal in the Chilean diet is wheat, with a high consumption of different kinds of bread, pasta and noodles. Beef, poultry, pork, fish and shellfish, eggs, and milk and derivatives are the most important sources of dietary protein. Raw and boiled vegetables are always present in the Chilean diet as are fresh fruits, both groups being good sources of vitamins and minerals. For more than 30 years, wheat flour has been enriched by law with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron. Long-standing government policies have been in force in Chile to promote good nutrition for infants, pre-schoolers and school children. Different programs to cover the main nutritional requirements of these groups have been established and thanks to these actions, which have been maintained for many years, it has been possible to reduce levels of infant malnutrition in the country to low levels of prevalence at about 5–6 per cent. The situation is not as favorable in other Latin America countries, which still seek adequate solutions for this problem.

In the Chilean food composition database system the description of the foods and meals has received considerable attention, including the main ingredients used, and the English language name. This helps the understanding of these local preparations for other users in Latin America or elsewhere. Of course, in other Latin countries there are many different meals based on their native foods that will be included in their own food databases.

• Chilean Food Composition Activities

Activities in the field of food composition have been maintained in Chile for over 30 years, initiated by Dr Hermann Schmidt-Hebbel and continued by the group of food chemists belonging to the Department of Food Science and Chemical Technology at the University of Chile. This permanent work has permitted the publication of eight editions of the Chilean food composition tables (1). The most recent edition was published in 1990 (2), listing more than 400 different food items, including data for the proximate analysis, energy content, and major minerals and vitamins. Supplementary tables are included for the various fractions of dietary fiber in legumes and cereals; retinol and cholesterol in different foods; fluoride in some beverages, seafoods and fruits; some trace minerals in vegetables; and amino acids. Other complementary tables are also included, e.g. energy conversion factors; essential amino acids in different foods compared with the provisional amino acid combination; servings weights and their equivalence in grams or millilitres; and the US Recommended Dietary Allowances (3)

These different published editions of the tables have permitted Chilean professionals not only in the health field, from government and private agencies, but also in the food technology and education areas, to obtain current comprehensive national information about the nutritive value of the main foods normally included in the Chilean diet.

The different food items were organized in 15 groups:

Another activity in the field of food composition has been the production of a publication in Spanish entitled Fats and Oils Habitually and Potentially Consumed in Chile: Fatty Acid Composition (7). This issue contains data obtained by the Food Chemistry Laboratory, University of Chile, for the main fatty acids present in the different fats and oils. General information about saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids is given. The publication also includes explanations about structure; physiological roles; families derived from essential linoleic and linolenic acids; and their requirements. The recommended dietary relationship between the three groups of fatty acids is also discussed as well as the potentially adverse effects that could be produced by excessive consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and additional recommendations for vitamin E intake according to the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the diet.

Five groups of different fats and oil are discussed in relation to the main fatty acids present in their structure. They are summarized in five tables, according to the following distribution: Table I, Vegetable fats and oil with less 40 per cent linoleic acid; Table II, Vegetable oils with more than 40 per cent linoleic acid; Table III, Fats of animal origin; Table IV, Fats and oils of marine origin; Table V, Hydrogenated fats and oils.

In total 62 different fats and oils with their respective fatty acid compositions are tabulated. The fatty acid composition of the fat extracted from different native seeds, is also included, e.g., Chilean hazelnut or avellana (Guevuina avellana), mayu (Soffora macrocarpa), Rosa mosqueta (Rosa moschata mill), quinoa (Quenopodium quinoa), pelu (Sophora tetraptera sensu R), tamarugo (Prosopis tamarugo phil), maracuya (Passiflora edulis), cardo (Cynara cardunculus), and the fruit of the Chilean avocado (Persea gratissima). In general, the linoleic acid content is high and special mention should be made of Rosa mosqueta seed oil which has about 43 per cent linoleic acid and 35 per cent linolenic acid.

Among the ω-3 fatty acids present in different seafoods of Chilean origin, eicosapentaenoic acid C20:5-ω-3 (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid C22:6-ω-3 (DHA) are the most important. For example, in jurel (Trachurus murphyi) DHA is about 25 per cent of the total fatty acid methyl esters and EPA about 10 per cent, while piure (Pyura chilensis) has EPA present at a higher percentage compared with DHA

This kind of work has continued and in recent years new items of vegetable, animal and marine origin have been studied, which will be incorporated in forth coming editions of this publication and in the database system.

• Food Composition Data Network in Latin America

Due to its strong national food composition program, Chile was invited to participate in the LATINFOODS organization (8,9), whose second meeting was held in Santiago in 1988 with the participation of many Latin countries.

The main recommendation from this meeting was that each country should start with the design of a local database system. In the meantime it was decided to organize CHILEFOODS as a branch of LATINFOODS and different groups of Chilean experts in food chemistry and nutrition, mainly from universities, government agencies and scientific societies were invited to participate. The group started to create a computer system able to support efficient handling of information about the composition of food produced in Chile.

In order to fulfil these objectives, suggestions from LATINFOODS were considered (10). Composition tables from other countries and the Eurocode 2 system from Eurofoods-Enfant for food classification were reviewed. In addition through a series of CHILEFOODS meetings, the different groups of Chilean experts in the field of food composition contributed their opinions and suggestions for improving the project. To design the system it was necessary to identify the output and input requirements, and then the archival and procedural specifications were identified.

First, the number of nutrients that should be included in the system was decided. A total of 171 nutrients was selected, then coded and classified into nine groups: proximate analysis, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, sterols, carbohydrates, dietary fiber and special constituents. A procedure for food classification and coding was also studied, and 14 groups were designated:

  1. Milk and milk products
  2. Eggs and derivatives
  3. Meats and derivatives
  4. Avian, wild animals and derivatives
  5. Finfish and shellfish products
  6. Fats, oils and derivatives
  7. Cereals and derivatives
  8. Legumes, seeds, oily fruits and derivatives
  9. Vegetables, seaweeds and derivatives
  10. Fruits and derivatives
  11. Sugar products
  12. Beverages
  13. Miscellaneous, soups, sauces and derivatives
  14. Special dietary foods.

A range of parameters to identify the different foods was also considered. Other variables were: identification of the samples, the analytical procedures employed and the source of information. A short code of eight digits was chosen, two digits to indicate the food group, two digits for the sub-group and the other four digits to identify the food.

In order to individualize a specific food, four parameters were considered: common name, synonyms, scientific name and English language name; weight and type of individual serving were also considered.

Printed forms were developed to facilitate one of the main tasks of LATINFOODS and CHILEFOODS, the compilation of data about food composition. These forms are being distributed among information generators and compilers. A total of 14 tables will gather all the necessary information. Along with the forms, a user handbook was produced with instructions for their correct use.

The program was created in CLIPPER (11), a language for handling databases and screens for program display. To run this program it is possible to use any computer compatible with PC DOS or MS DOS in 3.3 version or later. This program improves the information processing function that CHILEFOODS encourages. Additionally, it is able to develop input modifications, elimination operations, interactive consultations, nutrients for which information is compiled, information sources, analytical methods. Since the system has the facility to generate reports, it permits the distribution of information, another objective of LATINFOODS and CHILEFOODS.

The other project was to design a computing system to determine energy and nutritional requirements, and to assess nutrient contributions and quality of the diet of an individual.

We started with a comparative analysis of the different methods for dietary intake estimation, with the purpose of selecting the most adequate method for a computing system that could evaluate the diet quality of an individual; the dietary recall and the dietary record were the methods selected for the system.

For the estimation of dietary intake, the required energy and nutritional composition of the foods was supplied by the computerized Chilean food composition table (2), together with the Latin American and international dietary recommendations (12, 13).

The activities to design the system began with the identification of the required outputs, then the input requirements were studied, and finally the specifications for files and procedures were identified.

The program was created in dBASE III Plus, a package for handling databases that does not present learning difficulties. To run this program it is possible to use any computer compatible with PC-DOS or MS-DOS in 3.3 version or later.

The program was called PROARCAN, since the evaluation of dietary quality is based on a comparison between the individual's nutritional requirements and the actual nutrient intake. PROARCAN also adjusts the nutritional requirements for age, sex etc., and also computes the nutritional contribution of a specific diet, or a particular food.

Once established both the CHILEFOODS and PROARCAN programs were tested to validate their performance.

The CHILEFOODS and PROARCAN programs (14, 15) now constitute an important part of the Chemical Information Center (CIQ) at the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Chile. This offers a fast and up-to-date information service to users in the food field and other areas of chemistry.

Other Latin American countries have carried out different actions in the field of food composition, many publishing their own national tables. When their tables are computerized, it should be possible in the future to establish an international data network around Latin America connected by the LATINFOODS organization.

• References

(1)   Schmidt-Hebbel, H., Pennacchiotti, I., Masson, L., et al. (1961– 85) Table of Composition of Chilean Foods, 1st Ed. - 7th Ed., University of Chile, Santiago

(2)   Schmidt-Hebbel, H., Pennacchiotti, I., Masson, L., et al. (1990) Table of Composition of Chilean Foods, 8th Ed., Cramer SACI, Santiago

(3)   National Research Council (1989) Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th Ed., National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC

(4)   Pak, N., Ayala, C., Araya, H., Pennacchiotti, M., & Vera, G. (1989) Arch. Lat. Nutr. 60, 116–125

(5)   US Department of Agriculture (1976-) Composition of Foods: Raw, Processed Prepared, Agric. Handbook No.8 series, USDA, Washington, DC

(6)   Masson, L., Mella, M.A., & Cagalj, A. (1990) Rev. Chil. Nutr. 18, 257– 265

(7)   Masson, L., & Mella, M.A. (1985). Fats and Oils Habitually and Potentially Consumed in Chile, Fatty Acid Composition, University of Chile, Santiago

(8)   Masson, L., Araya, H., & Mella, M.A. (1987) Arch. Lat. Nutr. 37, 683–690

(9)   Bressani, R. (1987a) Arch. Lat. Nutr. 37, 591–602

(10) Bressani, R. (1987b) Arch. Lat. Nutr. 37, 793–802

(11) Straley, S.J. (1988) Programming in Clipper: the Definitive Guide to the Clipper dBASE Compiler, 2nd Ed., Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. Inc., Reading MA

(12) Latin American Society of Nutrition (1988) Arch. Lat. Nutr. 38, 383

(13) FAO/WHO/UNU (1985) Energy and Protein Needs, Report of an Expert and Consultative Meeting, Technical Report No. 724, WHO, Geneva

(14) Masson, L., Elías, P., & Chavez, H. (1990) Computing System for Chemical Food Composition Data Management, Department of Food Science and Chemical Technology, University of Chile, Santiago

(15) Masson, L., Rousseau, I., Elías, P., & Chavez, H. (1992) Computing System to Determine Caloric and Nutritional Requirements, Dietary Contribution and Diet Quality of an Individual, Department of Food Science and Chemical Technology, University of Chile, Santiago

Nutrient Composition of Wild-Gathered Foods from Mali

Marit Beseth Nordeide, Arne Oshaug, Halvor Holm

Nordic School of Nutrition, University of Oslo, PO Box 1046, 0316 Oslo, Norway

The aim of this collaborative project between Mali and Norway is to initiate food analysis which will lead to a food composition table in Mali. The food composition table presently used is the FAO food composition table for Africa which does not have data from Mali. The first foods selected for analysis were important staples used by nomads. Laboratories in Norway and in Sweden have been involved in both chemical and biological analysis. The analytical results are used to discuss improvement of food quality/utilization by combined use of locally-produced and gathered foods in Gourma.

• Methods

Foods. Wild-gathered Cenchrus biflorus (grains), Panicum laetum (grains) and Maerua crassifolia (leaves) were collected in the dry season, May 1992. The foods were studied as raw material and as processed. The grains of Cenchrus biflorus and Panicum laetum were boiled in water for 40 minutes. Leaves from Maerua crassifolia were washed and boiled with water for 6 hours, with water replaced every hour.

Chemical Analysis. Dry matter, crude protein (N 6.25), ash, gross energy, lipids, 12 minerals and amino acid patterns were determined.

Biological Analysis. The protein digestibility, biological value and net protein utilization of Cenchrus biflorus, Panicum laetum and Maerua crassifolia were determined in N-balance experiments in young growing rats.

Table I. Composition of wild-gathered foods from Gourma (per 100 g edible portion)

FoodDry matterProteinFatEnergyAshKCaFeZn
Cenchrus biflorus
whole grains (n=7)
Panicum laetum
whole grains (n=4)
Panicum laetum
bran (n=2)
Panicum laetum
dehusked (n=1)
Maerua crassifolia
dried leaves (n=4)

• Results

Table I shows the composition of wildgathered foods from Gourma; and Table II shows the protein quality. The data are provisional and require validation.

• Conclusion

Food quality can be substantially improved by processing and combined use of locally gathered wild foods.

Wild-gathered grains of Cenchrus biflorus and Panicum laetum were found to have high energy content and the minerals potassium, iron and zinc. These grains had a relatively high protein concentration, but low protein quality. The protein quality was increased by adding lysine to the grains during preparation (initial CS 28 increased to 100).

Leaves of Maerua crassifolia had high protein quantity, but low availability of protein in raw unprocessed material. Processing the green leaves of Maerua crassifolia yielded an acceptable food, which can be an important source of protein and energy in the dry seasons.

The use of unprocessed grains and leaves as foods is recommended. Cenchrus biflorus is used both as raw and as boiled grains. Using raw foods causes waste and reduced quality. Processing and combination are necessary to reach a high nutritive value of food resources in the area.

• Reference

(1) FAO/WHO/UNU (1985) Energy and Protein Requirements, WHO Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 724, WHO, Geneva.

Table II. Protein qualitya of wild-gathered foods from Gourma (per 100 g edible portion)

FoodProteinChemical scorebLimiting amino acidBiological valueTrue digestibilityNet protein utilization
Nameg% %%%
Cenchrus biflorus
whole grains
Cenchrus biflorus
whole grains, boiled
Cenchrus biflorus
whole grains boiled + lysine
Panicum laetum
whole grains
Panicum laetum
Panicum laetum
dehusked grains
Panicum laetum
dehusked grains, boiled
Maerua crassifolia
dried leaves
26116Lys-ca 60-
Maerua crassifolia
dried, boiled

a N-balance experiments in rats;
b reference pattern for preschool children 2 to 5 years (FAO/WHO/UNU 1985)

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