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A comprehensive national database on known food safety breakdowns in all sectors of the food chain
Project Code: H01004
Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre; University of Surrey
Raats, M ;
Leatherhead Food International
School of Management, University of Surrey
Food composition tables or nutritional databases (their electronic equivalents) are designed to provide information on the composition of foods in a particular country giving values for energy and major essential nutrients and other important food components. The values for nutrient and non-nutrient constituents are based on chemical analyses performed by the compiler of the tables (databases) in analytical laboratories or estimated from values taken from relevant literature. Alternately, values may be imputed from analytical values existing for similar foods or derived from the ingredients of mixed foods/recipes. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been responsible for the UK National Nutrient Databank since April 2000. Prior to this time, the databank was the responsibility of Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), who took on the responsibility for maintaining the official tables of food composition from the Medical Research Council (MRC) in 1978. Work on food composition in the UK, dates back to the 1930s’ with the work of R. A. McCance and Elsie Widdowson.
The FSA aims to ensure that an adequate, safe and varied food supply is available from which consumers can choose a balanced diet. The government needs to monitor changes in dietary intake and food consumption patterns and therefore regularly undertakes dietary surveys, to provide accurate information on the food intakes of different population groups. Reliable and up-to-date data on the nutrient content of foods are essential for the estimation of nutrient intakes from these food consumption data. Therefore, the FSA funds a rolling programme of analytical surveys that provide up-to-date and reliable information on the nutrient content of foods. Data from these surveys are incorporated into the nutrient databanks that support national dietary surveys. Data from these analytical surveys are also disseminated via the UK food composition tables, McCance and Widdowsons The Composition of Foods (The CoF).
For around 60 years, The CoF has been an authoritative and widely used source of information on the nutritional values of foods commonly consumed in the UK. The series includes the 5th edition (1991) and detailed supplements covering specific food groups, plus a supplement on the fatty acid composition of foods (1998). The 6th edition of The CoF, published in Autumn 2002, is intended to be a convenient book, including the most recent values for a range of commonly consumed foods. It comprises a sub-set of published and new data, with the range of both foods and nutrients being limited. It therefore replaces the 5th edition but not all the individual supplements. Now that the series of supplements is complete, work on a comprehensive dataset has been started in order to provide data from all the individual supplements and the 6th edition. This edition includes analytical data for a number of new foods and revised analytical data for key foods including cereals and milk. Other new aspects of the 6th edition, include the provision of AOAC values for dietary fibre and additional tables on phytosterols, carotenoid fractions, vitamin E fractions, and vitamin K1.
The present Review of The CoF Series was initiated by the FSA because, following the completion of supplements covering all the main food groups and the summary 6th edition, it was an appropriate time to review the series and consider the way forward. Specifically, the research reviews The CoF series with particular reference to the information required by stakeholders and the preferred and most appropriate format and content as well as mechanisms for distribution and timeliness of the content of The CoF. The findings will support the FSA’s responsibilities to consider how best to meet the needs of the stakeholders in future in relation to their requirement for authoritative, accurate and accessible information about the nutritional value of foods consumed in the UK.
The objectives of the project are:
- To investigate views of the key stakeholders on the future development of The CoF by conducting interviews and focus groups with a range of stakeholder groups/individuals
- To assess the views of a range of users on the future development of The CoF through the development and administration of a questionnaire including questions based upon the results of indepth discussions from objective 1
- Deliver a set of recommendations on the future content and format of The CoF.
A series of focus groups and semi-structured face-to-face or telephone interviews were held with key stakeholders to obtain their views on the future development of The CoF. Based on the results of the interviews and focus groups, a web-based questionnaire was constructed to obtain the views from a wider range of users. The topics included in the questionnaire were: importance and usage of The CoF; format; food and nutrient coverage; presentation of data; data quality; timeliness; pricing; communication; and management. A Delphi process was carried out to validate the results.
Users welcomed the opportunity to feed in their views about The CoF TO the FSA through this review. The responses from users, suggest overall satisfaction with The CoF. With regard to The CoF it is recommended that the FSA:
Importance and usage of The CoF
- Continue to make data available and easily accessible to a wide community of users, to enable them to work with the most accurate data of its kind available.
- Make new data available to users electronically.
- Encourage the development of an extensive range of formats through which data is made available to all potential users, for a wide range of purposes. Both electronic and paper-based versions of The CoF are needed.
- Make data available on a CD ROM.
- Continue to make the summary edition available in the way that it is currently provided, which is regarded as satisfactory.
- Make data available via the internet, with access paid on subscription.
Food and nutrient coverage
- Continue to make available about as wide variety of foods as possible, including more manufactured and composite foods.
- Make more detailed fatty acid data available.
- Make more comprehensive AOAC fibre data available.
Presentation of data
- Provide the electronic data in a more user friendly and extended (i.e. tagging of data) form.
- Provide more information about the coding system, particularly changes made between editions.
- The level of detail provided about “missing values” needs to be increased, especially when accessing data electronically.
- Continue to maintain a high standard of analytical quality for all data destined to be included in the data set.
- Make new data available to users on a yearly basis.
- Make data available to some users (e.g. those in education, the National Health Service (NHS)) at a low, or no cost.
- Allow the price paid by 3rd party product (e.g. software packages, publications) producers for use of data in their products to reflect the extent of the data used (i.e. number of foods and nutrients).
- Create a web site, functioning as a “one-stop shop” for information about the data set. It should be used to inform users about current analytical programmes, allow access to updated data, and provide background information on current and previous editions.
- Create an email alert system about developments relating to The CoF.
- Develop effective partnerships with a wide range of organisations, such as professional bodies (e.g.British Dietetic Association (BDA), Nutrition Society) through which information can be made available.
- Develop a more proactive strategy for marketing.
- Continue to manage the data set.
- H01004 - Section 1
- H01004 - Section 2
- H01004 - Section 3
- H01004 - Section 4
- H01004 - Section 5
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- H01004 - Section 11
- H01004 - Section 12
- H01004 - Cover
- H01004 - Contents
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