European Food Information Resource Network (EuroFIR)
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.
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.
Professor Monique Raats
Professor; Director of the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre
I previously worked at the Institute of Food Research, Health Education Authority and University of Oxford. My expertise is in the area of public health and behavioural nutrition research, gained on a variety of projects. My research is wide ranging both in terms of topics covered (e.g. food choice, policy development, food safety) and methodologies used (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, stakeholder consultation). I have also been involved in the evaluation of health promotion programmes and developing tools for use in nutrition education.
Since my arrival in 2000, I have played an instrumental role in the success of the University of Surrey’s Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre, securing over £5.4M of research funding, of which over £3.3M as PI. With a start-up investment of £250K in 2000, the centre has brought over £7.1M into the University.
To date I have published over 125 refereed papers, numerous non-refereed publications including 20 book chapters and have edited two booksand edited two books ("The Psychology of Food Choice" (2006) and "Food for the Ag(e)ing Population" (1st edition 2009; 2nd edition 2016).
I am one of the founding members, member of the Board of Directors (2001-2006) and was secretary (2004-2006) of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. The society was set up to combine interests in diet and physical activity; and to stimulate, promote and advocate innovative research and policy in the area. The society now plays an important role in fostering excellence in research in this field through its annual meetings and journal called the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Professor Richard Shepherd
Emeritus Professor of Psychology
Richard Shepherd is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology, having retired in August 2011. He obtained degrees in Natural Sciences from Cambridge and in Psychology from Cardiff and Southampton. He was a Research Fellow at the University of Surrey and then worked at the Institute of Food Research from 1982 to 1998, initially in Norwich and then in Reading, before joining the University of Surrey as a Reader.
He has carried out research on a range of issues related to the factors influencing food choice. In particular this has involved the development and application of social cognition models to food choice issues and the exploration of the factors influencing dietary change. He has also conducted research on the perception of risk and risk communication particularly in relation to food issues. He has published widely in all of these areas of research, including editing two books.
He has directed research funded by BBSRC, ESRC, MAFF, FSA, Wellcome Trust and industry, in addition to several collaborative European projects funded by the EU. He is a Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. In the past Richard has been a member of the UK Food Standards Agency Social Science Research Committee, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Social Science Expert Advisory Group and the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel.
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
Egan MB, Fragodt A, Raats MM (2006) The importance of harmonising and sustaining food composition data across Europe. Nutrition Bulletin 31, 349-353.
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.
Research groups and centres
Our research is supported by research groups and centres of excellence.