European Food Information Resource Network (EuroFIR)

Project dates

  • Start date: 1 January 2005
  • End date: 30 June 2010

Summary

EuroFIR, the world-leading European Network of Excellence on Food Composition Databank systems, is a partnership between 40 universities, research institutes and small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from 21 countries, as outlined in the map below. The principal objective is to build and disseminate a comprehensive, coherent and validated databank providing a single, authoritative source of food composition data in Europe for nutrients, and newly emerging bioactive compounds with putative health benefits. This objective is of fundamental importance to the Food Quality and Safety priority, and is an essential underpinning component of all food and health research in Europe. 

The University of Surrey is responsible for the component of the project that looks to better understand different user and stakeholders group needs with regard to food composition data related tools.

Currently, the following activities are planned:

  • Delineate the importance of food composition data in the various sectors of health, trade regulation & legislation, agriculture, and environmental protection across Europe.
  • This activity will review a selection of former European-funded research projects and future initiatives that have been or will be undertaken in different speciality areas (sectors) but are in a broader sense related to food. The results from this activity will demonstrate the magnitude and scope of food composition data in Europe.
  • Analyse selected European food composition database management and organizational structures

This activity will focus on the history, management structures, funding sources, and lines of communication with all users & stakeholders. The main aspect of this analysis is to determine what structures exist that enable interaction between stakeholders, users and compilers of food composition data on a national level and whether they are sustainable in the future.

  • Interview European National Food Consumption Survey Managers

Objectives

The objectives of this activity are: 

  • To understand European National Food Consumption Survey Managers’ wants and needs with regard to food composition data.
  • To understand European National Food Consumption Survey Managers’ relationship with the national food composition databases.
  • Hold interactive workshops with key food composition data users
  • To elicit topics to be included in the generic questionnaire used in Activity 5
  • Elicit food composition data users’ views of currently used data 

The aim of this activity is to develop a generic questionnaire regarding user views about national databases. The questionnaire will cover topics such as the preferred and most appropriate formats to access data, timeliness of making data updates available, quality requirements, pricing and communication related to developments relating to food composition data.

  • Collate an inventory of European nutrition analysis software

The aim of this activity is to provide an inventory of nutritional analysis software available in the EuroFIR partner countries with particular reference to functions, target audiences, and pricing. A final analysis of this information will highlight the limitations of currently marketed nutrition analysis software and will aid in identifying how the network can add value in the software development process and exploit these potential enhancements financially.

  • Interview developers and marketers of European nutrition analysis software

Interviews with developers/marketers of nutrition analysis software are needed to better understand their wants and needs, and their relationship with the national food composition database managers and customers (i.e. end-users of food composition data).

  • Evaluate the usability of prototype websites

In conjunction with other network partners and through analysis of interfaces of current on-line databases a study involving usability testing of prototype websites could be performed. Usability testing is a process of assessing users’ interaction with innovations that applies to measures of cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills.

Refereed papers

Egan MB, Fragodt AF, Raats MM, Hodgkins CM, Lumbers M (2007) The Importance of harmonising food composition data across Europe. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61, 813-821. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602823

Egan MB, Fragodt A, Hodgkins C, Raats MM (forthcoming) Compilation of food composition datasets- an analysis of user needs through the Use Case Approach. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Egan MB, Fragodt A, Raats MM (2006) The importance of harmonising and sustaining food composition data across Europe. Nutrition Bulletin 31, 349-353

Egan MB, Fragodt AF, Raats MM, Hodgkins CM, Lumbers M (2007) The Importance of harmonising food composition data across Europe. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61, 813-821.

Egan MB, Hodgkins C, Fragodt A, Krines C, Raats MM (2009) User-centred food composition data - analysis of user needs through the Use Case Approach. Food Chemistry 113, 804-807.

Hodgkins C, Raats MM, Egan MB, Fragodt A, Buttriss J, McKevith B (2010) Optimising food composition data flow within the UK Food Supply Chain and to external stakeholders. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 23(7), 749-752

Non-refereed papers

Egan MB, Fragodt A, Raats MM (2006) The importance of harmonising and sustaining food composition data across Europe. Nutrition Bulletin 31, 349-353.

Published abstracts

Fragodt A, Raats MM (2006) Working towards a web-based pan-European access to on-line nutrient databases: UK nutrition researchers’ needs and expectations. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 65, 97A.

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