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Nordic co-operation on food information

Nordic co-operation on food information

Activities of the Nordic Food Analysis Network 2013-2016 You do not have access to this content

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Edited By:Liisa Valsta, Helena Pastell, Sanni Aalto, Suvi Virtanen
30 Aug 2017
9789289348430 (PDF)

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The Nordic Food Analysis Network project (NFAN, 2013–2016) focused on creating a common, simple communicational platform to share history and plans on chemical food analyses. This report describes the activities that have taken place in the area of chemical food analysis, for the national food composition databases of the Nordic countries, at the national level, since 2000 and specific activities of this network between the years of 2013–2016. This network picked fibre, iodine and sodium as specific nutrients to focus on during this project, and comparative analyses of selected Nordic food items were carried out during this project with external funding. The results of the activities are summarized in this project report.

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  • Preface

    The quality of food composition information is of great significance, considering the vast and important use of the data: for national dietary advice, for food nutrient labelling and in epidemiological research. The Nordic countries have collaborated, in the field of food composition information, for several decades. In recent years, an increased interest in food analyses, the ever-reducing resources for carrying out analytical food composition information projects and, at the same time, improved possibilities for sharing information have motivated the activities of the Nordic Food Analysis Network.

  • Acknowledgements

    The work of the Nordic Food Analysis Network (NFAN) group was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers by the Nordic Working Group for Diet, Food & Toxicology. The NFAN group acknowledges the participation of other experts in the group meetings and the Satellite Symposium organized in connection to the 11th Nordic Nutrition Conference in June, 2016

  • Executive summary

    Quality of food composition information is of great significance considering the vast and important use of the data: for national dietary advice, for food nutrient labelling, and in epidemiological research. In order to have good quality data for foods consumed in the Nordic countries, sampling and analysis of food needs to be performed to determine the nutrient composition of interest.

  • Background

    Food composition and up-to-date chemical analysis of food items are essential in nutritional and epidemiological research, and in the evaluation of the nutritional and toxicological risks. Moreover, this information is used in nutrition labelling and food recommendations.

  • The Nordic network of excellence in food composition and chemical food analysis in the Nordic countries
  • Activities of the Nordic Food Analysis Network between 2012–2016
  • Nutrient analysis programmes in the Nordic countries to update the national food composition databases

    Denmark has had an official food composition table since 1982 and data from this was the foundation of the Danish Food Databank, which is now located at the National Food Institute, at The Technical University of Denmark. Original food composition data emerging from the analytical activities of the laboratories connected to the National Food Agency, and later also to the National Food Institute, has been the primary source for new data. In the early years of the Food Composition Databank, there were great expectations for the possibility of data delivered from the Food Monitoring System running at the National Food Agency, but during the years, it became evident that monitoring data are not the ideal source of data, and a new strategy for analytical projects for food groups was initiated.

  • Comparability of nutrient values of foods and fortification programmes in the Nordic countries

    Iodine, sodium and dietary fibre (DF) levels in food are momentous nutrients for several reasons. Mild iodine deficiency occurs in the Nordic Countries and fortification practices differ. Quantification of salt in food is, today, based on sodium concentrations instead of chloride, and policies to lower salt intake in the Nordic Countries, vary. The definition of dietary fibre has been revised recently and new methods have been developed to meet the definition. The aim of this work was to determine the contents of iodine, sodium and DF in selected foods and compare the results of the countries participating in The Nordic Food Analysis Network. The detailed results of the dietary fibre analyses have been published (Rainakari et al. 2016) and the iodine and sodium results were presented at the Nordic Nutrition Conference, in June 2016 (Pastell et al. 2016).

  • Towards improved Nordic co-operation – What do we need to succeed?

    In order to work together successfully, we need better coordination at several stages of the co-working process. First of all, we have to divide the tasks among several compilers and collaborate on sampling plans. This is especially important when planning the analyses of imported foods, e.g. fruits and vegetables. It is a good idea to share information about suitable laboratories that are specialised in specific tasks. We should also keep a record of all of the laboratories capable of carrying out analyses of certain nutrients, e.g. fibre, carbohydrates, vitamins, as well as share the information on who collaborates with which laboratories, in order to carry out the specific analyses. Above all, we need to have someone who creates and updates the shared information from relevant laboratories and keeps up with current knowledge.

  • Conclusions

    Considering the vast and important uses of food composition information, the quality of this data is of great importance. In recent years, each Nordic country has, more or less, faced problems on its own, when it comes to finding resources that are needed for continuously carrying out analyses on an adequate scale. Is does not matter whether the challenge is finding financial funding for the analyses or if that problem is somewhat secondary, as there is not enough personnel to perform the mandatory tasks. However, one way or another, each national compiler team has to find a way to gain access to upto- date analytical data, in order to assure the quality of the database, in the long run. That is why the idea of a functional co-operation is very welcomed by all of the Nordic countries; however, the question is how to get the ball rolling?

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