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Principal Communications (continued)


C. E. WEST and L. ARAB

Department of Human Nutrition, Agricultural University, Wageningen, The Netherlands; and Institut für Sozialmedizin und Epidemiologie des Bundesgesundheitsamtes Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.


In February 1985, DG XIII B of the Commission of the European Communities awarded a contract to the University of Heidelberg on behalf of Eurofoods. The contract provided funds towards the study of the feasibility and methodology of developing an easily assessible data base of food consumption data derived from tables and data bases currently existing in various European countries.

The fourth task of the contract calls on the contractor to produce an estimate of the operational requirements of the development phase of the proposed Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data.

This paper has been prepared in order to fulfil this task of the contract under the supervision of the Co-ordinator (C.E.W.) and Deputy Co-ordinator (L.A.) of Eurofoods. Much of the work has been carried out by Miss Susanne Kuckuck in Wageningen while she was a holder of an International Agricultural Fellowship. We would like to thank the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for providing the fellowship. In addition we would like to thank the following people who assisted in carrying out this project: Mr. J. C. Rigg and Miss L. M. Koster of the Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation (PUDOC) in Wageningen, Miss L.J.M. van der Heijden and Mrs G. J. C. van Oosten-van der Goes of the Department of Human Nutrition in Wageningen, Miss W. G. M. Boeijen of the Division for Nutrition and Food Research TNO in Zeist, Miss A. F. M. Kardinaal of the Department of Household Sciences in Wageningen, Miss M. M. van Essen of the State Institute for Quality Control of Agricultural Products (RIKILT) in Wageningen, and Dr R. Fritz and Mr Paul of the German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) in Cologne.

1. Introduction

The contract obtained from the Commission of the European Communties calls for the production of an estimate of the operational requirements of the development phase of the proposed Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data.

This paper addresses the specific problems set down under the fourth task of the contract. These are to prepare: (1) a functional description of the services to be provided; (2) a description of the development work to be carried out and the organizations assuming responsibility for each phase of this work; (3) an estimate of the development costs of the services to be provided, and (4) an estimate of the running costs of the services to be provided.

In addition, questions of copyright and of agreements between Eurofoods and those providing data on food composition are discussed.

2. Functional description of proposed Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data and related products and services (Task 4.1)

2.1 Introduction

A pre-requisite for considering the services to be provided is knowledge of potential users of such services and their needs. Potential users encompass a wide range of institutions and individuals. The institutions include those of government, non-government organizations and companies which are involved in policy making; regulation; research; education and providing information at the group and individual level; and also food product development, production, preparation, quality control, distribution and consumption. Thus the individuals concerned have a wide range of interests and their training and knowledge are disparate. The needs of users are also varied and their needs as now perceived by them may be quite different to the actual use made of the services when such services become available. On the one hand, they may not be aware of the services available or be in a position for financial or other reasons to make use of such services.

In order to evaluate the number and nature of users and their self-perceived, potential and likely needs, a market survey is being carried out as part of Task 1 of this contract. The type of data required by different users will vary and could be provided in a number of forms: on-line access; in the form of magnetic tapes, etc. (off-line); and as books, etc. (hard copy). In addition to providing data in these various forms (see sections 2.2 to 2.4), users of products of a Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data would also require other products and services such as specialized computer programs, access to literature related to food composition data and a variety of aids. These products and services are discussed in sections 2.5 to 2.7.

2.2. On-line use

On-line use allows access in dialog to a data base through a terminal. Thus the user has rapid access to information which can be regularly updated. On-line access would attract a wide range of users varying from those requiring continuous access to up-to-date information to occasional users requiring rapid access to information in order to answer a specific question. The service provided should allow on-line use either with or without downloading. If data are downloaded, it should be possible for the user either to make use of his own software or that provided by the data base host (perhaps from the data base constructor). In addition to providing software, the data base host or constructor will need to develop manuals and to conduct training sessions to explain the service to be provided and how it can be used.

On-line access does have the disadvantage that it is expensive to develop and maintain. In fact it may prove difficult to cover costs, at least in the short term, without subsidy from a national government or the Commission of the European Communities. Subsidies may be forthcoming as the provision of up-to-date information on food composition may be seen as being in the national interest in monitoring and improving the health of the population. In addition, large numbers of occasional users may supply sufficient revenue to subsidize a service regarded as essential by regular users such as policy makers and research workers in agricultural and biomedical research.

2.3. Off-line use

Off-line use is use of electronic data without direct physical connection to a remote host. Thus information is provided in the form of a magnetic tape for main-frame computers or floppy disks (flexible diskette) which is the form most suitable for microcomputers.

Off-line provision of data has a number of advantages. Both the establishment and running costs are lower than for providing such data on-line, although data are not immediately available from the data source as they would be on-line. When compared to hard copy, in the form of a book for example, data can be made more immediately available as many of the procedures involved in producing a book are eliminated. For those people requiring data in machine-readable form, to carry out calculation of the nutrient content of foods for example, the laborious task of entering data via keyboard is eliminated. With the growth of the use of computers, particularly microcomputers, with their increasing versatility at decreasing cost, it is expected that the market for off-line use will increase more rapidly than use of data on-line or in the form of hard copy. This growing market will not only be in the traditional market of research nutritionists and dietitians, but also industrial users and the health-concious private individual. However, for many people and for many purposes, data as hard copy — such as in the form of a book — will remain the most attractive proposition.

It should be possible for users to purchase the amount of data they require. Thus some users may wish to purchase the entire data bank on a magnetic tape or series of tapes while others would require only selected data on a floppy disk because this would be cheaper and easier to handle on a microcomputer. The provision of selected or specialized data is discussed under section 2.4 (Provision of hard copy).

As for on-line use, provision should be made for data offered off-line to be used with or without user programs from the supplier.

2.4. Provision of hard copy

Another way of providing data for the Eurofoods data base would be in the form of hard copy which includes various forms of printed matter varying in size from large bound books to single sheets with specific information. In contrast to the present national food composition tables where the data applicable to each country is included in each national table, data could be arranged to bring together all the available data on particular products, product group or nutrient. Perhaps, data for each product group could be issued sequentially in separate volumes over a period of say five years, after which preparation of a second edition of the tables could commence.

Data could also be provided in the form of subsidiary publications for specific interest groups. One example of a special interest group which has already been considered by Eurofoods are tourists and other visitors to the various countries of Europe. Attention could be directed towards the requirements of particular sub-groups such as: (1) individual needing to choose foods in order to adhere to a diet for medical reasons, e.g. people with diabetes, hypertension or coronary heart disease; (2) individuals needing to avoid strictly certain foods for medical reasons such as people with food allergy to egg protein or gluten and those with congenital or acquired deficiencies (e.g., lactase deficiency); (3) individuals wishing to avoid strictly certain foods because of religion (e.g., Muslims, Jews and Hindus) or because of personal preference (e.g., vegetarians).

Another example of a special interest group would be those interested in products in which there is a large international trade. Information could be supplied on the nutrients of products usually imported from another country. Much of the data suitable for presentation as hard copy could also be provided in an electronic form, that is off-line.

2.5. Computer programs

A range of programs for facilitating the use of products of Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data will need to be developed and made available either by Eurofoods or by other suppliers preferably under licence to Eurofoods. Such programs would include those types which have been developed for use with national nutrient data bases. Examples of such programs include those for calculating the nutrient composition of complex dishes from the proportion of the various ingredients, for calculating the energy value from the proportion of macronutrients, for calculating the nutrient losses and gains during the preparation of foods and for calculating the cost of diets. Other programs would need to be developed for selecting appropriate data from the merged data base or data based derived from it, and for converting data in the format of each nutrient data bank to a common exchange format and vice versa.

2.6. Access to literature

Many users of the products of the Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data will want more information than just the name of the food and the content of a specific nutrient. Although it will be possible to include some additional data in the data base, the data provided will often fall short of that required for a specific purpose. Thus, users will need regular access to the scientific paper or report in which the data were originally documented. Mechanisms will have to be developed to satisfy these needs.

2.7. User aids

It will be necessary to develop manuals to enable users to use the various products offered by Eurofoods including on and off-line access to the merged data base, hardcopy versions of the data base and the computer programs made available by Eurofoods or suitable for use with Eurofoods products. It may also be necessary to develop or adapt an existing multilingual thesaurus to enable the name of a food used in one country to be related to that used in another country. Much work has been done in this area during the development of the Eurocode which was carried out under the second task of the contract from the Commission of the European Communities.

2.8. Special services

Although a range of special services could be developed, two need to be considered in particular. The first, and perhaps most important type of service, is the provision of training to enable users to gain the maximum benefit of the products and services available. Development of such training programs would be closely related to the development of manuals referred to in Section 2.7 above. The second type of service would be the provision of search and data handling/calculation facilities for those people who do not have computer facilities available which can access the merged data base system on-line or the magnetic tapes/floppy disks to enable them to access the various Eurofoods products off-line. This service could be provided either by Eurofoods directly or by others within a licence agreement with Eurofoods.

3. Description of the development work to be carried out and the organizations assuming responsibility for each phase (Task 4.2)

3.1. Introduction

It will be necessary for Eurofoods to establish a suitable structure to enable development work to be continued and products and services to be provided. The structure proposed is presented in Fig. 1. At the present stage, none of the components of the system required exist in their entirety. Those constructing food composition tables and nutrient data bases in individual countries are in effect national centres, but they are not in a position for a variety of reasons to supply data to a service centre for data capture and generation. Agreements will have to be made with the national centres to obtain the data (see Section 7) and the necessary resources to enable the work to be done will have to be provided. At the present time, most national centres do not publish the sources of their data so additional work will be required to get this into a published form.

Fig. 1. Proposed structure for the Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data and related products and services.

Fig. 1

3.2. Role of Eurofoods

It will be the responsibility of Eurofoods to develop agreements with the various components of the system and to ensure that the operation is of a high technical standard and financially sound. Funds for the system will be obtained from the sale of products or services. However, it is envisaged that, at least for the first five years, funds from various sources will be required before the system can become selfsupporting.

3.3. Service centre for data capture and generation (DCG centre)

It will be necessary to establish a service centre for data capture and generation (DCG) either as an entirely new enterprise or by contracting the work out to an existing organization. Such an approach is taken by the International Food Information Service which users the services of Satz-Rechen-Zentrum Hartmann and Heenemann KG in Berlin. The work for IFIS involves bibliographic and not factual data as is the case with the food composition data in the Eurofoods system. Management of the two types of data base systems is quite different.

There are two main components to the development work before the DCG centre can be operational. The first is the creation of a common exchange format which will enable the data from the national centres to be transferred to the DCG Centre. Preliminary work on the development of such a common exchange format has already been carried out by a sub-committee of the Eurofoods Computer Committee because of the interest in transferring data between those responsible for nutrient data banks in the individual countries of Europe.

Another possibility would be to use a system currently in use by a data base host. For example, the data base host DINDI (Deutsches Institut für Medizinische Dokumentation und Information) has developed a system known as GRIPS (General relation-based information processing system) which would be very suitable as a common exchange format. Adoption of such a system would save not only on the cost of the developing the system itself but also on the cost of developing a program to transfer data from the DCG Centre to a data base host using the system in question. Incidentally, it should be remembered that programs have to be written to transfer data in the format of a national centre to the common exchange format and also for transferring data from the common exchange format to that of a national centre. That is, two programs are required for each national centre. Naturally, such programs would also allow ready transfer of data between national centres.

The second component of the development work to be carried out before the DCG centre can become operational is the design and construction of the merged data base itself. Generally, there is less experience in the development of factual data bases such as the one envisaged than there is for bibliographic data bases. However, much experience has been obtained during the carrying out of Task 2 of the present contract and in a joint Eurofoods-Infoods research program. In December 1985, Dr Arab spent two weeks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working with Dr Klensin of Infoods on this problem. The design and construction of the data base can be divided into a number of separate stages:

The functional specification of the data base will establish the criteria used to define the data and will thus enable decisions to be made on how the data will be processed prior to storage, stored and how it can be used both on-line and off-line in form of tapes, floppy discs and as printed material (see Sections 3.4 to 3.6). System development involves the design of a data base and the software to be used with hardware chosen to produce a data bank. Data base construction involves the actual entry of data from the individual national data centres into the Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data and its validation and correction.

3.4. Data base host

It is envisaged that the initial development work will be carried out by one data base host and that a period of time (possibly one year) would be allowed to elapse before a second vendor would be offered the opportunity to host the data base on-line. The development work involved before an on-line service could be offered can be summarized as follows:

Experience gained as part of Task 2 of the present contract will be very useful during the development work to be carried out. In addition, most hosts also have formats which could be used for storing the data so it will not be necessary to develop the system from nothing.

3.5. Off-line user unit

The task of the off-line user unit will be to provide magnetic tapes and floppy discs containing, generally, only extracts of the data held in the DCG Centre (see Section 2.3). Development work will involve the creation of an initial range of products in formats suitable for a variety of users after carrying out a market study. Physically, the off-line user unit may be a part of the DCG Centre, but its task is quite separate as it must service the needs of those requiring data off-line. It will have to work in close cooperation with the software development and distribution unit because most users will require software to enable them to use the food composition data (see Sections 2.5 and 3.7).

3.6. Hard copy publication unit

The work of the hard copy publication unit will be analogous to that outlined for the off-line user unit. The range of products which could be provided are given in Section 2.6.

3.7. Software development and distribution unit

The software development and distribution unit will be responsible for the development of software appropriate for use with food composition data provided both on-line and off-line (see Section 2.5). Software will be written both in-house and under contract for sale by the unit. In addition, software will be written by third parties for use with Eurofoods data. Development work will involve the creation of an initial range of products after carrying out a market survey.

3.8. Literature supply unit

Arrangements will have to be made for making available to users literature such as articles containing original analytical data (see Section 2.6.). However, this task could almost certainly be carried out by existing organizations so the developmental work required is probably minimal.

3.9. User support and special services unit

As mentioned in Sections 2.7 and 2.8 it will be necessary to develop manuals and to conduct courses to enable users to gain maximum benefit from the products and services to be supplied by Eurofoods. As the acceptance of the products services of Eurofoods depends on the quality of user support and services, much development work will need to be carried out in this area.

4. Estimate of the development costs (Task 4.3).

4.1. Introduction

The major development costs for establishing the proposed Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data and related products and services involve establishing the service centre for data capture and generation (DCG Centre) and getting the system on-line. However, it is necessary to examine the costs of the individual steps in the whole system.

4.2. Data retrieval from national data centres

The major development cost as far as retrieval of data from the national data centres is concerned is probably the cost of writing a program to translate the data into the common exchange format. Naturally, if the data base is already in the common exchange format, no work is involved but generally this will not be the case. Usually, additional fields in the data base will have to be created for such information as references to the source of information, analytical method used, Eurocode etc. It is envisaged that the work would take up the time of one individual for one month for each country. For an initial system with ten countries this might represent 40 000 ECU. This money would probably have to be provided by Eurofoods although the work could be contracted out to the individual national data centres.

In addition to the above costs, there will be the cost of obtaining access to the data. As outlined in Section 6.9, it may well be that Eurofoods would not be in breach of copyright if data from national data bases of food composition were incorporated in the Eurofoods merged data base. However, in the interests of ‘fair use’, Eurofoods would have to come to some agreement with the national data centres. Payment by Eurofoods would depend on:

It would be possible for Eurofoods to obtain the tapes or the cost of an empty magnetic tape; at the cost to normal users who usually sign an agreement to say that they will not pass on the data to third parties; or at a higher tariff because of the intention to sell to third parties. A decision will have to be made on this matter. However, it is envisaged that changes levied will be included in the running costs rather than as part of the costs of development (see Section 5).

4.3. Establishment of the merged data bank at the Service Centre for Data Capture and Generation (DCG Centre)

The first cost item for development work in this category is for the creation of a common exchange format. As outlined in Section 3.3., this cost will be minimal if a system currently in use by a data base host is adopted. Otherwise it could cost 20 000 ECU. The second cost item for development work would be the cost of creating the merged data base itself. As discussed in Section 3.3, the cost of the design and construction of the merged data base can be divided into three (A, B and C) to which overhead costs have to be added.

A.Functional specification of data base  
 Staff costs, 5 man-months20 000 ECU 
 Travel5000 ECU 
 Other costs5000 ECU 
  30 000 ECU 
B.Systems development  
 Staff costs, 2 man-months8000 ECU 
 Depreciation on hardware5000 ECU 
 Depreciation on software10 000 ECU 
 Other costs5000 ECU 
  30 000 ECU 
C.Data base construction  
 Staff costs; 2 man-months8000 ECU 
 Data processing5000 ECU 
 Data collection, subscription and copyright20 000 ECU 
 Depreciation of hardware3000 ECU 
 Depreciation of software3000 ECU 
 Other costs5000 ECU 
  44 000 ECU 
  +10 000 ECU*
  112 000 ECU 

* overhead costs

4.4. Establishment of an on-line system

The cost of the developmental work outlined in Section 3.4 is envisaged as 90 000 ECU of which about 70% are staff costs, 10% computer costs 5% travel, 10% overhead costs and 5% other.

4.5. Establishment of the system off-line

In the absence of a market survey, it is difficult to estimate the development costs of an off-line service. However, it will probably include the costs of one individual for a year (48 000 ECU), which with computer costs (10%), travel costs (5%), overhead costs (10%) and other (5%) will increase the cost to 68 000 ECU.

4.6. Provision of hard copy

The development cost of getting books ready for publication will be of the same order as for establishing the system off-line (68 000 ECU). In addition, there will be printing costs which could amount to 30 000 ECU in the first year. However, it is essential that the market be fully investigated before books are produced.

4.7. Software development

It is envisaged that the costs for the type of products mentioned in Section 3.7 will be of the same order as for the establishment of the system off-line. Thus 68 000 ECU should be reserved for this activity.

4.8. Supply of literature

As it is envisaged that this work will be carried out by existing organizations, a minimal 1000 ECU should be set aside for this activity.

4.9. User support and special services

As the success of the products and services to be supplied by Eurofoods depends on the acceptance and use by the community, 30% of the total development costs will be allocated to user support and special services. This represents 187 000 ECU.

4.10. Summary of development costs

Data retrieval from national data centres40 000 ECU
Establishment of merged data bank (does not include cost of developing a common exchange format)112 000 ECU
Establishment of on-line system90 000 ECU
Establishment of off-line system68 000 ECU
Provision of hard copy98 000 ECU
Software development68 000 ECU
Supply of literature1000 ECU
User support and special services187 000 ECU
TOTAL624 000 ECU

5. Estimate of the running costs (Task 4.4)

5.1. Introduction

It has been very difficult to estimate running costs for all aspects of the work except for the operation of an on-line system where information from DIMDI was available. The costs of training, marketing and servicing user needs are included under each activity.

5.2 Data retrieval from national data centres (rough estimate)

Can depend on the agreements reached with the individual national data centres (see Sections 4.2 and 7), but could be of the order of 10 000 ECU per year.

5.3. Operation of the Service Centre for Data Capture and Generation (DCG Centre) (very rough estimate)

It is envisaged that annual running costs of the service centre for data capture will be as follows:

Staff costs, 12 man-months48 000 ECU
Computer costs10 000 ECU
General administration costs10 000 ECU
Travel5000 ECU
Other5000 ECU

5.4. Operation of an on-line system (based on information supplied by DIMDI)

The running costs of an on-line system comprise the following components:

For a data base of the size envisaged, 10 000 PAM (primary access method) pages in the DIMDI Siemens system would be required to store the data itself, reference file, code book file and the food description and language file. The cost of storing this amount of data is DM 234 per month excluding tax which is equivalent to 1400 ECU per year.

The cost of updating will depend on the number of different times that someone would have to carry out the operation but it is not envisaged that will take more than 0.5 man-month per year (2000 ECU per year) plus the computer time which will cost approximately 6000 ECU per year.

Thus the costs of maintaining the data base system on line are as follows:

Storage of data base1400 ECU
Updating data base8000 ECU
Training, marketing, user needs etc.4000 ECU

However, it would be hoped that within a number of years that the on-line system would be selfsupporting and would be able to contribute substantially to the costs of data retrieval from national data centres and the cost of running the Service Centre for Data Capture and Generation.

5.5. Operation of an off-line system (very rough estimate)

It is envisaged that the annual running costs of an off-line system will be as follows:

Staff costs, 6 man-months24 000 ECU
Computer costs4000 ECU
General administration costs8000 ECU
Training, marketing, user needs etc.16000 ECU

5.6. Provision of hard copy (very rough estimate)

It is envisaged that the annual costs for the provision of hard copy will be as follows:

Staff costs, 3 man-months12 000 ECU
Consultant costs24 000 ECU
Printing costs30 000 ECU
General administration costs, including computer costs8000 ECU
Training, marketing, user needs etc.16 000 ECU

5.7. Provision of software (very rough estimate)

It is envisaged that the annual costs for the development, distribution and marketing of software products will be of the order of 50 000 ECU.

5.8. Supply of literature

As it is envisaged that this work will be carried out by existing organizations, a nominal 1000 ECU per year should be set aside for this activity.

5.9. Expected income

This will become apparent when results of the market survey become available.

6. Copyright

6.1. Introduction

There are a number of barriers to the free flow of scientific information (Baker, 1985). In earlier sections, a number of economic, technical, political, social and cultural issues have been addressed. In this section, the question of copyright will be considered while another aspect of intellectual property rights and legal mechanisms, namely contracts, will be discussed in Section 7.

In order to provide a background to consideration of copyright, a short summary of the principles of copyright, as outlined in the UNESCO (1981) publication The ABC of copyright, is given in Sections 6.2 to 6.7. The basis of copyright law in Europe is the Berne Convention of 1886 and its five revisions (Paris, 1896; Berlin, 1908) Rome, 1928; Brussels, 1948 and Paris, 1971). Protection under the Conventions is extended without formalities to works by nationals of any country on the sole condition that publication first takes place in a country which is a signatory to the Berne Conventions.

Most European countries are signatories to the Conventions although some have not been signatories to all of them. In addition, most European countries have ratified or acceded to the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952. The Universal Copyright Convention, which is not as rigorous as the Berne Conventions, is applicable in Europe only with respect to agreements with countries outside Europe in particular the United States (Anonymous, 1976).

6.2. Underlying principle of copyright

The underlying principle of copyright is that individual creators (artists, writers) are entitled to protection against unauthorized use of their work as well as a share in any earnings from its use by the public. The author is entitled to an exclusive, transmissible right in all forms of economic exploitation of his work, whatever their value and purpose.

Copyright protects original works of intellectual creation in the fields of art, music, science and literature. The works themselves are protected: that is, the form or manner of expression and not the author's ideas. Ideas, systems, principles and methods may not be copyrighted. There must be an expression of an idea in a material form such as a book, magazine, painting, musical composition, choreograph, film or phonograph record. Unauthorized copying of the work is tantamount to theft. An original work is defined as the product of one person's independent thought and labour.

Copyright laws make a clear distinction between the rights of the copyright owner and the rights of someone who owns a physical object such as book, record or painting. If an author sells his original work, this implies transfer of the copyright in it only if he has signed a contract stipulating such transfer. This implies that, once a copy has been lawfully made, the owner of the copy can dispose of the physical object as he sees fit but he cannot duplicate the copy without permission of the copyright owner.

The law gives to authors certain exclusive rights for a limited time in relation to so-called literary works. These rights enable the author to share in any earnings from use of his or her work. Because of the need to find a balance between the author's personal rights and the needs of society for knowledge and information, the exclusive rights of authors have sometimes been limited by law. In cases where the law expressly permits use of the work under compulsory or statutory licence, the owner cannot prohibit use of this work but the user must nevertheless pay for the use.

If a publisher wants to make changes in the work he considers reasonable to meet certain editorial standards, or if he wished to make an abridgement or include a short work in an anthology, he is obliged to obtain the consent of the author.

6.3. Economic rights of authors

All copyright laws reflect the guiding principle that the author is entitled to a reasonable share of the economic returns from public use to his work. Economic rights generally correspond to the different ways in which a work may be used. The author of a protected work has the exclusive right to authorize a variety of acts that fall into two broad categories: (a) the right to reproduce the work, and (b) the right to communicate the work to the public (basic economic rights).

The most fundamental right granted by copyright laws is the right of the author to authorize the making of copies of his work. Reproduction involves many separate rights deriving from a multiplicity of methods ranging from printing to engraving, lithography, photocopying and photography to making films and phonograms (rights of reproduction). Sometimes the right of reproduction includes the right to put a work into circulation or the right of distribution. Sometimes, these rights are protected jointly, sometimes separately. When making a contract for reproduction of his work, the author has the power to define the terms and conditions of distribution of copies. These contracts cover such questions as quantity, price and geographical area of authorized distribution.

An example of a modern law listing particular rights is that of the Federal Republic of Germany, which passed into law in summer 1985 (Thuss, 1985).

6.4. Protected works

Generally speaking, protected works are intellectual creations in the fields of literature, music, art and science.

Works may be communicated to the public in either written or oral form. Works must contain these elements: expression in a form and being original. Anglo-Saxon laws often require the additional criterion that works to be copyrighted be fixed in a tangible form. This is not a requirement in laws of the Roman legal tradition which speak only of forms of expression.

Originality in the context of copyright law means that the work must be original in the sense that it has not been copied from another work. It must also represent a considerable amount of creative authorship. Definition of the subject matter differs in the various national laws.

Copyright protection is also provided to a collection of works derived from pre-existing works. Such collections are protected as original works since their creation requires a process of recasting, transforming or adapting the pre-existing work, and the permission of the copyright owner of the original works is required in order to make derivative works. There are two types of derivative works that are generally given copyright protection: (a) translation, adaptations, arrangements and other transformations or works, and (b) collections or compilations such as anthologies.

The right to a derivative work does not prejudice the right to the works from which it is compiled. In general, therefore, agreement, not only of the author of the new work but also of the authors of the works used to create it, must be obtained in order to publish a derivative work.

Whereas translations are copyrighted because of the knowledge involved (two languages and subject matter), national laws generally stipulate that collections and compilations are protected only if they have involved intellectual creativity in the editing and arrangement. The copyright of a translator or adaptor does not prejudice the copyright of the author of the original work.

6.5 Limits to copyright protection

Once a work has been published, or otherwise communicated to the public, the exclusive rights of the copyright owner are subject to some limits. Copyright may not apply to some works. In all countries, there are works that have fallen into the public domain because the term of copyright protection has expired. In particular cases, under certain conditions spelled out in copyright laws, a copyrighted work may be used without the copyright owner's consent. The grant of copyright is a limited monopoly, not only in the scope of the rights granted, but also in terms of time. There are two general categories of works that are not protected for reasons of public interest: official acts (and in some cases government documents) and the news of the day.

Some limits or restrictions are also imposed on copyright protection in the sense that some uses of protectd works are permitted without the author's consent. Sometimes, in these cases, payment is required, sometimes not. These limits on copyright have been accepted out of a need to balance the public's interest in access to science and the arts with the rights of authors. Exceptions to the exclusive rights of authors find justification not in the contents of a work but in the intended purpose of the person who used the work without the author's consent. These exceptions or limits to copyright are found in laws of the Roman legal tradition. In laws of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, more or less the same criteria are adopted under a concept that has been called ‘fair use’ or ‘fair dealing’. It is a concept that defies precise definition, but which has been accepted and described by the courts.

Several questions are taken into account by the courts when considering cases of use under these exceptions. They include the amount and substantially of the portion used in relation to the entire work, the purpose and character of the use (whether commercial or non-profit), the nature of the copyrighted work and the effect of the use on the potential market or value of the copyrighted work.

These restrictions concern primarily works that the public should be allowed to use freely under certain conditions to further public policy objectives of mass communication, criticism or education. These exceptions apply to private and/or free communication; copies or reproduction strictly reserved for private use: quotations: instructional use; archives and libraries; and permanent monuments of works situated in public buildings.

Under the system of compulsory licences, the copyright owner is obliged to grant authorizations for use of his work by third parties, but unusually retains the right to negotiate the terms of the use. When the parties fail to come to an agreement, the amount of the remuneration is fixed by some competent authority. In some states, this is done by civil courts and in others by agencies such as copyright tribunals.

The author's right of translation is also limited by some laws so that works may be more readily available in other languages. Translation and reproduction rights are authorized under compulsory licence by some laws.

Statutory licences, sometimes called ‘legal’ licences, are similar to compulsory licences in that a work may be used without the copyright owner's consent, subject only to payment of a fee, with the difference that the amount is prescribed by a competent authority. The legal licence applies to the right of mechanical reproduction under which royalties are fixed as a percentage of the retail selling price of the recordings. In some states, they are calculated on a numerical basis, a prescribed amount for each playing surface. Usually the royalties resulting from such users are paid to a body designated for the purpose and that body or society distributes them to the authors concerned in accordance with established rules.

6.6 Copyright ownership

Many states hold that only human beings or natural persons can be the original owners of literary or artistic works. A legal entity can only buy or otherwise acquire the copyright in a work since it lacks the capacity to create a work and therefore cannot figure as an author. This approach is most commonly found in states adhering to the Roman legal tradition.

The laws of certain states, on the other hand, recognize that copyright may belong, in the first instance, to a corporate body or legal entity in contrast to a natural person. This is true primarily in states of the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition. For example in some countries, a legal entity is deemed to be the author of a work produced by its employees in the course of their work. Among the legal entities that may own copyright under different laws are the state, governmental services or agencies, municipalities, academies, universities and institutes.

Two or more persons may collaborate in the creation of a work. They may work in such a way that their contributions are merged and cannot be distinguished within the finished work. Works in which several individuals have collaborated on the component parts linked together into an inseparable unit or whole have been called ‘joint works’ or ‘collaborations’. In such cases, the coauthors are usually considered as co-owners. In general, this means that a person who wants to utilize the work must first obtain the agreement of all the authors.

In spite of the fact the the contributions to collective works (equivalent to composite work, that is a new work for the preparation of which a pre-existing work is incorported) are separate and discernible, they are usually undertaken on the initiative of one individual or legal entity and put together by someone who plans, arranges, co-ordinates, prepares and publishes the collection. It is generally recognized that, without prejudice to the copyrights in the individual works so assembled, there is a separate copyright in the ensemble. Many laws deal with this point, designating the editor or director of the work as the owner of copyright in the collected work as a whole. Subject to stipulations in the contract, copyright in the individual contributions may, however, belong to the respective creators. In the case where pre-existing work is incorporated with new work, both creators will have copyright in their respective works. Utilization of such works requires the authorization of both of them.

The Berne Convention states that copyright protection may not be subject to any formality. The protection of author's rights should flow automatically from the act of creation and should not be dependent on compliance with any procedures.

The copyright laws of most states require that some kind of notice be affixed to all copies of a work to inform the public that copyright protection is claimed in the work. The international accepted copyright notice, provided for in the Universal Copyright Convetion (1952), is composed of three elements: the symbol ©, the name of the copyright holder and the year of the first publication of the work.

6.7. International copyright

States that have ratified, or acceded to, either the Berne Convention or the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) or both (most of the European countries) have an obligation to see that their domestic laws are in conformity with the convention binding them. It is possible, however, for national legislation to comply with convention principles in different ways and to work out voluntary or legislative solutions to such pressing contemporary questions as limits for photocopying.

Common to both conventions is the fundamental principle of national treatment. According to this rule, works originating in a contracting state are protected in every other contracting state in the same manner as states protect works originating within their own territory. Stated in another way, works by a foreign author enjoy the same protection as the works of national authors.

Translation requires the authorization of the copyright holder of the original work. However, under certain conditions and after complying with certain formalities and the payment of royalties, authorization may be waived. The government of the country that wishes to publish the translation can grant a licence replacing authorization of the copyright owner when seven years (UCC) or ten years (Berne Convention) have passed from the date of the first publication in the original language if no translation has been published in the national language of the requesting country.

6.8. The legal basis of copyright with respect to Eurofoods

Copyright protection in a particular country basically depends on the national laws of the country concerned, although these laws are regulated to a large extent by the Berne Conventions and the Universal Copyright Convention which have been ratified or acceded to by most European countries. Thus the operations of Eurofoods will depend on where Eurofoods is regarded as being resident. It is expected that Eurofoods will be established as a legal entity in The Netherlands early in 1986 although it may well be that the greatest part of the work of Eurofoods, for example the establishment of the merged data base of food composition data, will take place in another country such as the Federal Republic of Germany. However, this should not present any difficulties because protection of foreign works is provided for under the Berne Conventions and the Universal Copyright Convention.

The establishment of Eurofoods as a legal entity has consequences as far as copyright law is concerned. Under the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition, a copyright owner can only be a legal entity, not a person, while under the Roman legal tradition, only the person involved with collection, organizing, arranging and editing can obtain copyright for the new work. Under Dutch, German and English law, the vendor of the products of the Eurofoods merged data base of food composition data must have corporate legal existence to provide adequate protection of copyright interests. Although it would be possible to continue to work in the name of one or more of the partner academic or research institutions or to work with an existing information service, it is envisaged that Eurofoods will be established as a limited company along the lines of the International Food Information Service. A limited company offers a number of advantages over legal entities such as a foundation or an association.

6.9. The role of copyright in the operation of Eurofoods

As far as Eurofoods is concerned, the question of copyright arises at two levels: obtaining data from other sources and the provision of data by Eurofoods to users.

It is important for Eurofoods to have ready access to data, particularly those from national food composition tables and nutrient data banks. Thus it will be necessary to reach agreement with such data producers and compilers (see Section 7). However, it is by no means clear that it will be necessary for Eurofoods to obtain copyright permission to use such data. Thus any agreement made with data suppliers should state that Eurofoods does not admit that the data obtained is protected by copyright. Agreement would be necessary from the point of view of ‘fair use’ in data handling although not necessarily from the point of view of copyright. Eurofoods will need to be able to obtain regularly updated data usually on magnetic tape from the national compilers of food composition data. There is doubt about the ability of the copyright owners of national food composition tables to protect their investment in constructing tables under copyright law because data per se cannot be the subject of copyright although the form in which it is presented can be. Thus if it can be established that the products arising from the merged data bank of food composition are collective or composite works (Section 6.6), the question of copyright may not apply. Selection and arrangement of the contents in the new works must meet the criterion of originality. Copyright in the individual contributions may, however, belong to the original creators. Thus it would appear that some Eurofoods products such as a food composition table for tourists would not require copyright permission from the suppliers of the data before it can be sold while other products such as the merged data base as a whole may well require such permission. Even sale of the merged data base would not infringe copyright law if it could be established that it had a format which could be regarded as original.

It will be important for Eurofoods to obtain copyright protection for its products. As stated above data per se cannot be protected by copyright law, although protection by copyright law extends to the form in which the data is presented. Agreements with the users of Eurofoods products will have to made in order to ensure that the source of income for Eurofoods is protected (see Section 7). It may well be that some of the income derived from the sale of Eurofoods products will be passed onto the suppliers of the data to Eurofoods. However, as mentioned above, such an arrangement would not necessarily imply that the suppliers of the data were entitled to that income under copyright law. In general, most products will be sold for use only by the customer. Thus contracts should contain a definition of ‘customer's own use’. In addition to protecting the copyright of Eurofoods products containing food composition data, it will be necessary to ensure copyright protection for other products such as user manuals and computer software. As the problem of copyright protection of computer software is somewhat complicated, it is dealt with separately in Section 6.10.

6.10. Copyright protection of computer software

At present copyright protection for software seems to be a great problem in most countries. As it is seldom included in laws as a special aspect, the provisions of existing laws have to be interpreted with respect to software.

In the USA, computer software has been covered by the copyright law since 1980. Whereas software is not patentable, operating systems can be copyrighted, even a program embedded in ROM. Codes, object and source codes, may also be copyrighted. In 1977 the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works prepared recommendations to be submitted to the U.S. Congress on copyright changes with respect to computer-readable works. If they had been accepted, both computer-readable works. If they had been accepted, both computer-readable data bases and computer programs in source language could be copyrighted in any tangible medium of expression. However, complete disclosure to the Copyright office of the contents of the data base or the computer program, accompanied by a usage manual, would be required.

A novel way of preventing unauthorized duplication of software is being pioneered in the USA. Called ‘shrink-wrap licencing’ a software licence is established as soon as the user/buyer breaks open the package in which the software is contained. There are two provisos: inside the package there has to be contract affirming the legality of the agreement; and there has to be a clearly visible legend stating the conditions of acceptance before the package is opened.

In Great Britain the government recently announced that it will support a private Member's Bill which aims at extending copyright protection to computer programs. It is hoped that the Bill will clarify the current doubt surrounding the application of the 1956 Copyright Act to computer programs. It will extend to computer programs the new offences, increased penalties, and new police powers that were introduced in 1982 and 1983 to reduce video piracy in the UK.

As protection of software programs lies in the sphere of responsibility of the customer's national copyright law these laws as well as new developments, recommendations, judgements of the court (leading cases) must be carefully checked before selling programs in the different countries.

It may well be that the new copyright law in the Federal Republic of Germany may contain reference to computer aspects but this has not been followed up.

7. Agreements with those providing food composition data

7.1. Introduction

The success of the Eurofoods data base of food composition data depends to a very large degree on ready access to the individual food composition data bases in the various European countries. As discussed in Section 6.8, there may in fact be no infringement of copyright in using data from the national data bases but in the interests of fair use, Eurofoods should reach agreement with those responsible for such data bases. Agreement has to be reached on a number of specific issues:

7.2. Conditions under which Eurofoods can provide data to third parties

It is in the interest of the project that Eurofoods is as free as possible to provide data to third parties. It would seem that the only restriction would be that they should not compete directly with the national data base centre without adequate compensation to the national data base centre.

7.3. Remuneration for providing access to data from a national data base

The question of pricing has been discussed earlier (Section 4.2). It may well be that Eurofoods will not have to pay cash for obtaining access to such data but may be able to give the national data base centres preferential treatment in access to the merged data base. Such preferential treatment could be in terms of price or in allowing them to use the merged data base before it becomes available to the general public. This would allow the national data base centres to check their data against data in other European data bases before their own data bases were made available. National data base centres may also be able to use software specially developed by Eurofoods (see Section 2.5).

7.4. Remuneration for supplying data from a national data base in the standard exchange format

Converting a data base from the format of a national data base to that of the standard exchange format will require work. It may well be that Eurofoods will have to make some contribution towards the cost of this work. However, such payment could also be in the form of preferential treatment as outlined in Section 7.3. It should also be remembered that once the data are in the standard exchange format they can be transferred to other national data base centres participating in the Eurofoods system.

7.5. Timing of supply of new data to Eurofoods

It would be in the interests of the merged data base of food composition data if data could be supplied at fixed dates. This would allow the merged data base to be updated in a co-ordinated fashion. In choosing the time when data should be available for updating and the frequency of updating, a number of matters have to be considered. On the one hand, users want to have access to recently published data as far as possible especially in the case of on-line users. If the interval between updating is too long, for example larger than six months, the value of the on-line service is diminished as the data would be available more cheaply off-line. On the other hand, many users require that the data base remains stable for a sufficient length of time so that results obtained with the data base are comparable. It may well be that some users will need access to data which is no longer current. Possibily, an update interval of between three and six months would be an acceptable compromise. Eurofoods would have to establish a scheme for updating so that data suppliers could provide data at optional times and so on-line users would be aware of when the data base would be changed.

7.6. The rule of national data base centres in marketing Eurofoods products and services

There may be certain advantages in appointing national data base centres as marketing agents for Eurofoods products and services as the national centres could be closer to the market place. It would also increase the role of national centres in the operation of Eurofoods and may in fact provide them with a useful source of income. Such income may in fact lead to lower costs to Eurofoods for services provided under Sections 7.3 and 7.4.

7.7. Advantages to national data base centres of being involved in the Eurofoods system

National data base centres will derive a number of advantages from being involved with the Eurofoods data base system which will enable them to produce a better data base system of food composition data for use in their own country. For example, analytical data not yet available in their own country may be readily accessible in the merged data base. If the compiler has taken data from another European table, he could also be alerted if the source data is altered. Quite often, data in nutrient data banks are estimates and it will be quite easy for the compiler to compare estimates with data derived from the analysis of similar foods in other countries.

As Eurofoods will need to develop software and a variety of other services for users (see Sections 2.5, 2.7, and 2.8), many of these products and services would be of interest to users of national data bases of food composition data.


Aitchison, T. M. (1985): Online and data base producer. J. Inform. Sci. 9, 75–80.

Anonymous (1976): International copyright protection. Information hotline 8, 9–13

Anonymous (1985a): Copyright protection for software. Electr. Libr. 3, 18–19.

Anonymous (1985b): Computer program copyright. Aslib Inform. 13, 106.

Baker, D. B. (1985): Chemical abstracts service's secondary chemical information services. J. Chem. Inf. Comput. Sci. 25, 186–191.

DIMDI information (July 1985): Online access to DIMDIs databases.

DIMDI information (October 1985): Services offered by DIMDI, advantage — charges — access.

Eliezar, I. (1980): Use of computers in handling of laboratory data. In Data handling for science and technology ed S. A. Rossmassler, & D. G. Watson, 115–126.

Goebel, J. W. (In press): AFI-Arbeitskreis ‘Rechtsfragen der Fachkommunikation’. Nachr. f. Dokum.

Kutten, L. J. (1984): Can copyrights protect all forms of software? Mini-Micro Systems 17, 249, 250, 253.

Mie, F. (1985): Zur Terminologie und Typologie von Fackteininformationssystmen. Nachr. f. Dokum. 36, 66–72.*

Nederlandsche-Uitgeversbond, ed. (1932): Auteurswet 1912 en Berner Conventie. The Hague: Boekhandel VH. Gebr. Belinfante N.V.

Saltman, R. G. (1977): Copyright in computer readable works. NBS Special Publication 500–17 Washington D.C.

Schmig, E. (1985): Online is a complicated product. Nachr. f. Dokum. 36, 212–213.

Singer, D. D. (1977): The needs of data bank users and some data banks in food science. In Factual data banks in agriculture. Proceedings of the symposium organized by the Commission of the European Communities, Luxembourg, July 12–13, 1977.

Thuss, J. (1985): Der Weg zum neuen Urheberrecht. Nachr. f. Dokum. 36, 73–76, 165.

UNESCO (1981): The ABC of copyright. Paris: UNESCO.

Warrick, T.S. (1984): Legal aspects of purchasing microcomputer software. ASIS Bull. 10, 9–12.

West, C. E., ed (1985): Eurofoods: towards compatibility of nutrient data banks in Europe. Ann. Nutr. Metab. 29, (S1).


Report of a Forum

MEMBERS: L. Bergström (Sweden/Norfoods); V. Veitl (Austria); D. Lemaître (Belgium); A. Bognár (FRG); A. Trichopoulou (Greece); E. Carnovale (Italy); A. H. Rimestad (Norway); B. Kowrygo (Poland); I. Martins (Portugal); G. Varela (Spain) and A. Paul, D. A. T. Southgate and D. H. Buss (UK).


Official Nordic co-operation exists in many fields at different levels. When it concerns food there are the Nordic Council of Ministers, Committee of Deputies; Nordic Committee on Food and Nutrition Policy, and several project groups within specific working groups. The committees and working groups have a more permanent status while the project groups are established to carry out and report on their specific tasks and are then replaced by other groups. Norfoods is a project group under the Nordic Working Group on Food and Nutrition. The group started its activities in 1982. The members are Denmark (Anders Møller), Finland (Maarit Ahola), Iceland (Olafur Reykdal), Norway (Arnhild Haga Rimestad) and Sweden (Lena Bergström). Computer experts have been linked to the group since 1985. These are Finland (Kimmo Louekari), Norway (Trond Ydersbond) and Sweden (Hernan Isakson). Anders Møller leads the computer work.

Norfoods' goals are to co-ordinate and to stimulate work on food composition tables, nutrient data base systems and food analyses in the Nordic countries. To achieve these goals the members work on several small projects, in addition to coming together for two meetings per year when current information is exchanged about the nutrition field in each Nordic country.

One of these projects is a dictionary of foods and dishes in English and in the Nordic languages. Scientific names will also be included. Norfoods will have some assistance from the merged Eurofoods nutrient data base, where Dr Arab already has the Nordic names, except the Icelandic ones. Another possible joint Norfoods and Eurofoods project is the reference list on nutrient losses and gains (NLG) in the preparation of foods. Norfoods members have already collected references on these and the references from Eurofoods NLG project could be included in a joint publication. A directory of Nordic nutrient data banks will also be published.

As work on Norfoods projects has progressed so plans have changed. That is the case with the nutrient database project. At first a common Nordic nutrient database consisting of two or three levels was suggested. Then it was considered more practical to set up a computer network, so that the national banks could be reached by other Nordic countries. But because of the high cost of on-line operations one solution which has been considered is tapes of the different Nordic nutrient data banks. These could be used in each country's own computer. Norfoods computer scientists have yet to decide upon the most appropriate plan.

For further information on Norfoods work, see the Wageningen report and the Norfoods poster, available from the author.


Austria, a small country with about 7.3 million inhabitants, has no national food composition table. There are, however, federal institutes for food analysis and research in each state of the country. There are also several analytical institutes within the food industry. Analytical data in food composition tables have not yet been published or collected nationwide. Such tables are needed, however, by scientists, government planners and industry.

The development of a nutrient data base

Concern with diet and nutrition-dependent disease at our institute raised an urgent need for a computerized nutrient data base. Therefore such a base was installed for calculation of energy and nutrient intake of our patients before and during therapy. Of special interest was the energy intake of: (1) obese subjects during their usual diet as well as when dieting to reduce body weight, (2) anorectic subjects, and (3) seriously ill patients during catabolism.

For our investigations of energy metabolism we need to know the exact metabolizable energy input during long-term whole body direct calorimetry using different formula diets Appropriate food composition tables are needed to analyse daily input of energy and nutrients.

Sources of our nutrient data base

Since an Austrian food composition table does not exist we used tables in the German language from other countries to form our database. These were the Groβe Nährwerttabelle (Cremer, 1983) and the Food composition and nutrition tables (Souci et al., 1981).

When, as has become increasingly possible, we have been able to obtain the nutrient content of commercially prepared ready-to-eat food we have added these types of nutrient values as a separate part of our database. By courtesy of the food industry we received data on deep frozen food, heat-stabilized food, tinned food, and partially or totally ready prepared food. Where values are not available they are set at zero in the data base.

Values for energy, major nutrients, fibre content and minerals are generally available.

Another part of our nutrient data base contains dietetic products, formula-diets for tubefeeding and nutrient concentrates for artificial enteral feeding.

For calculation of nutritional intake it was found time-saving to calculate the nutrient values of Austrian standard recipes and give them them a separate place in the data base. At present, calculated values from Austrian sausage and ‘Mehlspeisen’ recipes are available. Other Austrian special recipes will be included.

Use of the nutrient data base

Energy content and amounts of 24 nutrients can be calculated using special programs when the amounts of food consumed are provided. Other programs can be used to calculate and differentiate the nutrient intake from animal and plant food sources.

From total consumed fat, the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids is calculated. Total carbohydrate intake can be split into the amounts of mono-, di-, oligo- and polysaccharides. Ingested amounts of some vitamins (e.g., A, E, B1, B2, Niacin, C) and minerals (e.g., Na, K, Ca, P, Mg, Fe, Fl), as well as of fibre and cholesterol, can be determined.

Of special interest in the diet are non-nutrient substances possibly associated with the incidence of certain diseases. At present a special table for food purine content or uric acid equivalents is available. Other tables will be developed step by step.

On a large scale the nutrient data base was used to investigate supply and consumption of food at different business canteens to calculate input of energy and nutrients. A small program is used for fast calculations of single recipes and a large one for calculations in nutritional studies. Both programs offer choice up to 24 nutrients. Special tables may also be used here. A modifying program can be used to recalculate standard recipes for defined dietetic use.


For the moment the proposed Austrian food composition table is an incomplete structure. However, by using all national sources of analytical data and through cooperation with Eurofood, useful tables will soon be developed. In the absence of a national Austrian table, our nutrient data base provides a beginning for an Austrofood composition table. Although values have not been published as a whole interested users with their own computer facilities may however obtain a food code list for their own purposes.

Cremer, H. D. (1983): Die Groβe Nährwerttabelle. München: Gräfe und Unzer Verlag.

Souci, S. W., Fuchmann, W. & Kraut, H. (1981): Food composition and nutrition tables, Stuttgart: Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH.


The following information can be given on the progress made in our national food composition tables since the Eurofoods Workshop in Wageningen in May 1983. We mainly use the Dutch table as our country still does not have a specific Belgian table. The efforts of Eurofoods have brought about the establishment of a commission aiming at the realization of the ‘NUBEL table’.

The following parties are concerned. The authorities (Ministry of Health) will provide all available food analyses as well as financial support. Officially recognized laboratories and institutions (universities, research institutions) will carry out analyses. The food industry will provide analytical data while regarding the NUBEL project as beneficial to the industry as a whole.

The Belgian Association of Dietitians, which is the initiator of the project, will give its advice on the inclusion of foods normally to be found in the Belgian diet.

This NUBEL table will be used mainly by: (1) all those who are concerned with the healthy diet of individuals in the community (nutritionists, dietitians); (2) those specifically concerned with the food of patients (dietitians, nurses, physicians); (3) the general public (using a simplified version at a later stage), and (4) computers of software packages for the evaluation of nutritive values of foods.

Federal Republic of Germany

The third edition of the Souci-Fachmann-Kraut tables has been published (Souci et al., 1987). Alterations were made by introducing new foods and as to food components and to nutrient density, as follows. The tables were up-dated by the introduction of new foods in the following food groups: milk and milk products (e.g. cheese varieties); fats and oils (margarines); meat without fat; fish and molluscs; cereal, cereal products and oil seeds; vegetables and vegetable products, cooked vegetables and exotic fruits. Important alterations to the inclusion of food components are the changes of ‘carbohydrate’ and ‘crude fibre’ to ‘available carbohydrates’ and ‘total dietary fibre’. Several new minerals and trace elements (nitrate, nitrite, silicon, bromine, tin, vanadium, aluminium), vitamins (individual tocopherols), amino acids (free amino acids in fruits and fruit juices) have been included, as have phytic acid, sterols and biogenic amines. Values for nutrient density were added to enable better assessment of the nutritional quality of the food.


After the Wageningen meeting the progress made on the Greek food composition tables has focused on: (1) computerizing the existing data and classifying them according to the main groups of the Eurocode; (2) expanding the number of food entries and food components, and (3) preparing a corrected and enlarged new edition of the tables with an English translation.


The present Italian food composition tables, published by the National Institute of Nutrition, were produced in 1976 according, as much as possible, to the guidelines prepared by Southgate (1974), utilizing either original analytical data or carefully selected literature data. During these nine years the tables have been widely utilized in different areas (food consumption surveys, nutritional surveys, research, dietetics, agricultural and economic planning).

The main problems encountered by the users have been (1) lack of data on the composition of cooked foods and recipes; (2) lack of data on some nutrients, e.g. dietary fibre, sodium, potassium and zinc, folic acid and vitamin E; (3) expression of available carbohydrates as monosaccharides; and (4) lack of the range of variability of the nutrients and the number of samples analysed.

For many reasons, mainly economic in recent years, the updating of the tables consisted only in the addition of missing values (mainly vitamins). Only recently has a new edition of the table been planned, along similar general lines to the present edition (grouping of foods with separate tables for amino acids and fatty acids, etc).

The tables will be extended taking into consideration the needs of the users and the availability of new data. The selection of nutrients will use dietary fibre instead of crude fibre, will separate carotenes and retinol and will add vitamin E, vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin B12, sodium, potassium, zinc and magnesium. The selection of foods will be carried out according to the results of a survey conducted by our Institute on 15 000 households. The food items with higher frequency of consumption will be chosen among the 12 000 items collected. The source of data will be either analytical (from the Institute, other public laboratories, or food companies) or from literature (original publications). Data borrowed from other tables will be reduced as much as possible. As far as composite dishes are concerned the selection of items will be carried out on the basis of the previously mentioned survey. The recipes will be taken from an “ad hoc” publication of our Institute. Our present code will be used with minor modifications. Useful supplementary tables will be inserted, e.g. conversion of units (spoons, cups, to grams); nutrient losses during cooking and processing, and weight changes during cooking.

Southgate, D. A. T. (1974): Guidelines for the preparation of tables of food composition, Basel: Karger.


In Norway we have one official food composition table called the National Nutrition Council's Food Composition Table.

The collection of data and editing of the tables has been the responsibility of the National Society of Nutrition and Health. It was first published in 1958, and the 5th and latest edition was published in 1984. The table comprises about 750 foods including some dishes and provides data on 14 nutrients. The table is intended to be a tool for various educational and informational activities. It is also available on diskettes.

This year we have designed a system for a nutrient data bank on the mainframe computer at the University of Oslo. This bank is designed to contain data on 122 nutrients and to include references to all the individual food values, and recipes for dishes and products. It is possible to calculate nutrient values from recipes and store these.

We do not intend to link any advanced calculating system suited for dietary research to this data bank as the Section for Dietary Research at the University has their own data bank and software suited for this purpose.

Until now there has not been a laboratory that has been responsible for analysing foods for the food composition tables. The data have been obtained from many different laboratories. This year, however, the most advanced laboratory in Norway dealing with food analyses will probably accept the responsibility of analysing food for this purpose.


For several years the Institute of Food and Nutrition has investigated the nutrient values of basic Polish foods. Additional analyses are carried out at different laboratories and institutes. The results, as well as foreign published literature on this subject, are collected by the Institute of Food and Nutrition.

The recent tables prepared by J. Piekrska & M. Los-Kuczera (1983) contain almost one hundred food items from 38 food groups, as well as mixed dishes.

The values of energy, water, protein, fat, total carbohydrates, fibre, ash, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, retinol, carotene, retinol equivalent, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid are included. It is important, that for the first time in this publication, energy and nutrients are given for alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Percentage of waste and where applicable, loss, of nutrient values during the culinary preparation of raw products are estimated.

A second part of the Polish food composition tables (1983) is at present in the process of publication by PZWL. It will also include more detailed information on minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, cholesterol, amino acids for the same products which were analysed in the 1983 edition food tables.

Piekarska, J. & Lós-Kuczera, M. (1983): Sktad i wartość odzywcza produktów spozywczych, Warsaw,: PZWL.


The first Portuguese food composition tables edited by Goncalves Ferreira & Silva Graça were published in 1961, and the third and last edition in 1977. All the tables were published by the National Institute of Health. The data on nutrients were based on direct analyses of food samples carried out by the Food Chemistry Laboratories at the National Institute of Health (Lisbon and Oporto).

At present the Nutrition Research Centre and the Food Chemistry Departments of the above Institute have set up the task of revising and extending the last edition of the Tables. It is planned that the new edition will retain the features of the earlier editions, and all the values given will be provided only by direct analyses. Some new foodstuffs and nutrients will also be added.

Two new supplements are planned. The first, on foods for special nutritional use, will include dietetic foodstuffs for children and other special dietary foods. Data on the analyses of dietetic foodstuffs for children, infant milk formulas, dietetic cereal formulas and other baby foods, have recently been published by the various Food Chemistry Departments. A second supplement will also be based on the work of the Food Chemistry Departments who are now starting to carry out the cooking and analyses of some Portuguese cooked foods.

The third edition of the Portuguese food composition tables formed the basis of a reduced nutrient data base, that, during 1984, was organized by the Nutrition Research Centre. This data base has data on 12 nutrients for 104 food items, and until now, has been only used by the Nutrition Research Centre to evaluate dietary survey data.


Since the Spanish food composition tables were first published in 1980, an attempt has been made to increase the data contained, especially to include nutrients that were not initially considered. The third edition of the tables, which is now imminent, will therefore include new data drawn from reliable bibliographical sources on the lipid composition of a number of foods, especially fatty acid composition including total saturated fatty acids, total polyunsaturated fatty acids, oleic, linoleic, linolenic, stearic, palmitoleic, myristic, palmitic and arachdonic acid, and cholesterol. These data are already being used in work we are doing in a national nutrition survey to discover the type of fat consumed in the Spanish diet. This is being jointly conducted by the Institute of Nutrition and the National Institute of Statistics, on 25 000 families that are representative of the country. Also being studied is the type of fat consumed in areas of Spain in which the highest levels of blood pressure in Europe are recorded.

The sodium and potassium content of the foods listed in the tables will also be included.

As far as the number of foods included in the tables are concerned, we believe they encompass virtually all the most significant, basic, single raw foods consumed in Spain. However, it is an acknowledged fact that there are sometimes large differences in the nutrient content of a food because of the processes it has undergone, especially in the home. We are expanding this information in the study that is being carried out in this institute on the composition of mixed foods, after they are cooked. This involves analysing some of the mixed dishes that are most frequently eaten in parts of Spain, such as paella, dishes made with pulses and, above all, a variety of fried fish. The macronutrients in these dishes are determined, including the NPU of the protein, to find out how the amino acids of the constituents of the mixed dishes interact. In addition, fatty acids and some vitamins are analysed.

Modern methods of keeping foodstuffs mean that many of them are no longer purely seasonal, but there is no doubt that the same product harvested or caught at different times of the year may contain very different amounts of nutrients. We have already studied the composition, at four different times of the year, of 12 species of fish that are eaten fresh. Considering the extend to which fish forms a part of our diet, determining the qualitative and quantitative composition of its fat could prove to be of the utmost importance.

The work to improve upon the previously limited information supplied in these tables has been encouraged by the growing number of people and institutions using them.

United Kingdom

In the seven years since the publication of the 4th edition of McCance and Widdowson's ‘The composition of foods’ (Paul and Southgate 1978; Paul et al 1980), much additional information relating to the tables has been published and major studies supplying new compositional data have been commissioned by the Nutrition Section of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who now have the sole responsibility for the food composition tables. The majority of the analyses have been carried out at the Laboratory of the Government Chemist in London. A completely new section to the tables, Immigrant Foods, has been published as the second supplement (Tan et al 1985). Details have been published of the composition of breads and cereals, and of seven trace elements (Se, Mn, Cu, Zn, I, F, Cr) in foods and of vitamin A in animal foods. Potatoes were analysed at the Food Research Institute, Norwich, and milk and milk products mainly at the National Institute for Research in Dairying (now Food Research Institute) at Reading. The results from these studies will be incorporated into future supplements of the tables.

Minor errata in 15 items in the 4th edition have been identified, and the weight loss on cooking of all the 69 cooked dishes in the tables is now provided, together with minor corrections to nine of the recipes (Paul et al 1986).

Paul, A. A. and Southgate, D. A. T. (1978). McCance and Widdowson's ‘The composition of foods’, 4th edition. London: HMSO.

Paul, A. A. Southgate, D. A. T. & Buss, D. H. (1986): McCance and Widdowson's ‘The composition of foods’: supplementary information and review of new compositional data. Hum. Nutr. App. Nutr. 40A, 287–299.

Paul, A. A. Southgate, D. A. T. & Russell, J. (1980): First supplement to McCance and Widdowson's The composition of foods. Amino acid composition (mg per 100g food) and fatty acid composition (g per 100g food). London: HMSO.

Tan, S. P., Wenlock, R. W. & Buss, D. H. (1985): Second supplement to McCance and Widdowson's The composition of foods. Immigrant foods. London: HMSO.

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