| Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987) |
|The uses of food composition data|
|Nutrient composition data uses and needs of food companies|
Needs and concerns
The clear identification of food ingredients and subclasses within a food classification is the first and most essential function of any food composition data base. This will allow the food manufacturer to select correctly the food ingredients, or the nutrient composition for the ingredients, used in manufacturing. This is a particular concern with international programmes since there may be less control over foods and ingredients as regards handling, consistency of production, processing, and identification.
Formulated foods may vary in ingredient composition and, therefore, in nutrient composition. Differentiation by ingredient composition is a factor to take into account in developing a data base. The same products in various parts of the world may be identified differently. Since many local names may not completely identify the product, some means of identification needs to be established, such as ingredient composition or recipe. Since processed foods may be modified or changed over a period of time, a programme for elimination, replacement, and updating of compositions should be incorporated into the system.
Validation and correlation of analytical methods is another potential area for major error in nutrient composition. The users need to know the degree of reliability for the values reported. In order to make product comparisons, it is essential that the data be equivalent, if not the same.
Provisions need to be made to allow for rapid searching and identifying of products. If the search procedures are too time-consuming, it will reduce use and acceptance of the system. Compatibility with existing equipment and methods for easy transfer between data systems is also of practical importance.
Updating on a continuing basis will make the data more significant and usable for the food manufacturer, given the high degree of sophistication in this area. New products, processes, and packaging methods are continually being introduced into the food system, and all of these can and do change the composition of food products introduced to the consumer. To accurately reflect nutrient intake, changes in the food systems must be quickly incorporated into the data base.
In particular, better identification of the fibre components of foods and of methods for their analysis is essential. Fibre types may play a significant role in human nutrition and health. This requires a clear definition of food products to allow evaluation of fibre subclasses relative to metabolic effects and interaction with other nutrients in the diet.