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TASK FORCE REPORT: INFOODS, The International Network of Food Data Systems, Activity Report, 2003-2005.

INFOODS Progress Reports,2003-2005

Activity report, 2003-2005
INFOODS, The International Network of Food Data Systems
The main activities of INFOODS during the past two years, have been assistance with the 5th and 6th International Food Data Conference, publication of the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, publication of the second edition of the essential food composition text book, organization of two technical workshops for standards development, and assistance with the publication of national and regional food composition tables and databases.

International Food Data Conference
INFOODS assisted with the arrangements for the 5th International Food Data Conference (IFDC), which was held on 30 June to 2 July, 2003, in Washington DC.  The theme for the Conference was ‘‘Fostering Quality Science in Food Composition Databases.’’ The intent of the theme was to encourage papers that addressed issues pertinent to improving the quality and reliability of data in food composition databases.  The three-day Conference was attended by 220 people from 29 countries.  Sixty papers were selected by the Scientific Advisory Committee for oral presentation from a total of 140 abstracts submitted.  The remaining abstracts were prepared for the poster sessions. Session topics included New Information of Culturally-specific Foods, Nutrient Variability and Bioavailability, New Data for Energy and Macronutrients, New Data for Vitamins and Bioactive Food Components, Progress in Local, Regional and Specialized Databases, Dietary Assessment Systems, Software and Tools, Dietary Assessment Survey Results and Applications, Software and Internet Applications, and Future Directions, Goals and Challenges.  Thirty two papers from this Conference were selected for publication in a special double issue of Journal of Food Composition and Analysis (Volume 17, Issues 3-4, Pages 247-580, June – August 2004).

The INFOODS Task Force met during the 5th  IFDC in order to assist with arrangements for the 6th IFDC, which was to be held as a satellite to the 18th International Congress of Nutrition.  Professor Hettie Schonfeldt agreed to be convenor, and the theme selected was Food Composition Data and the Nutrition Dilemma.  The 6th IFDC will be held in Pretoria, South Africa, 14-16 September 2005.

The Journal of Food Composition and Analysis
The  Journal of Food Composition and Analysis (JFCA), the official journal of INFOODS,  is devoted to all scientific aspects of the composition of human foods, and emphasizes new methods of analysis; data on composition of foods; studies on the production, compilation and dissemination of food composition data; studies on the statistics and distribution of such data and data systems; and studies related to data use, including nutritional epidemiology, clinical research, agro-biodiversity, food security and food trade. The journal has a strong base in nutrient composition, but places equal emphasis on bioactive non-nutrients and anti-nutrients in foods. The JFCA published six issues in volume 16 (2003) and six again in volume 17 (2004).  Due to an increase in the number of high quality papers submitted, and interest in the special issues prepared, the publisher decided to increase the number of issues to eight for volume 18 (2005).   In addition to the special issue on the IFDC, there have been several other special issues, the most recent of which was in celebration of the International Year of Rice.  The JFCA is among the journals included in the AGORA project (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture), an initiative to provide free or low-cost access to major scientific journals in agriculture and related life sciences to public institutions in developing countries.

Publication: Food Composition Data: Production, Management and Use
This book, Food Composition Data: Production, Management and Use, by Heather  Greenfield and David Southgate was published in 2003 and distribution commenced in 2004.   It was produced as a set of guidelines to aid individuals and organisations involved in the analysis of foods, the compilation of data, data dissemination and data use. Its primary objective is to show how to obtain good quality data that meet the requirements of the many users of food composition databases. These guidelines draw on experience gained in many countries where food composition programmes have been active for many years. The postgraduate Food Comp training courses held each year, either in Wageningen or a developing country location, use this as the essential textbook. The full text in pdf can be downloaded from the INFOODS website, and the book itself, free for researchers in developing countries, can be ordered from FAO (order form is available on INFOODS website).

Standards Development / Technical Workshops

Food Component Identifiers

Technical consultation on the revision of food component identifiers (tagnames) was held June 29, 2003, in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the meeting was to update the current tagname system to accommodate developments taking place in the area of food composition.  The report of this meeting can be found on the INFOODS website.

International Interchange

Technical workshop on standards for food composition data interchange was held in Rome, 19-22 January 2004.  The main objective of the workshop was to develop recommendations and agree on data elements, definitions and a format for interchange of food composition data. Part of the process included a review of existing interchange systems and formats, and analysis of their compatibilities and feasibility of use. The workshop participants noted that XML would be the most suitable way to interchange data but that technical limitations exist which make it difficult for some compilers, including those in North America and Europe, to convert their data into XML. It was therefore agreed that the next step towards the XML interchange would be a set of relational files with standardized tags and definitions which would then be converted into XML format guidelines. These files should therefore be regarded as collections of elements and their attributes that can be presented in a single file or as a set of relational files. In the construction of the files, attempts were made to be as non-prescriptive as possible while outlining the desired levels of metadata.

The major outcome of the workshop was a set of recommendations and the set of files, elements and definitions.  The report of this meeting can be found on the INFOODS website.

Regional and National Food Composition Tables

The second edition of The Pacific Islands Food Composition Tables was published in 2004. This update of the 1996 edition is based on new, original analytical data and covers the countries Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga. The publication is part of a larger FAO project to improve food security and food quality and safety in Pacific Island countries, and enhance trade by strengthening food composition and contaminant data generation, compilation and dissemination, achieving international accreditation for laboratories and upgrading the skills base of technical personnel. The full text in pdf can be downloaded from the INFOODS website, and the book itself, free for researchers in developing countries, can be ordered from FAO (order form is available on INFOODS website).

Year of publication: 2007