Accreditation and Quality Assurance

, Volume 12, Issue 3–4, pp 117–125 | Cite as

Improving data quality in food composition databanks: a EuroFIR contribution

  • Isabel CastanheiraEmail author
  • Catarina André
  • Marine Oseredczuk
  • Jayne Ireland
  • Linda Owen
  • Paul Robb
  • Amanda Earnshaw
  • Maria Antónia Calhau
General Paper


Food composition databanks (FCDBs) should provide nutrient composition data comparable over time at national and international levels. However, the linkage between national database compilers and permanent structures to support the upgrading and monitoring of nutrient values in foods are far from satisfactory. This paper focuses on European efforts to improve the quality of nutrient values entered into FCDBs, emphasizing initiatives under the EU Network of Excellence: European Food Information Resource (EuroFIR – NoE). The general concept of quality assurance is described and results obtained in the project’s first year are presented. A survey among EuroFIR partners aimed at evaluating the current situation in comparability of nutrient values suggests that an integrated approach has two requirements: the implementation of a quality management system (QMS) and a harmonized data-quality assessment system (DQAS) to select values from different sources. The use of reference materials (RMs) is a key criterion in deciding on comparability and reliability of candidate nutrient values. Consequently, results of a survey on food matrix reference materials are presented. These suggest that developments in RMs for nutrient analysis in foods have a great impact on the quality of data to be included in FCDBs.


Data quality Food composition EuroFIR Reference materials 



This work was completed on behalf of the EuroFIR consortium and funded under the EU 6th Framework Food Quality and Safety Programme, and Luso - American Foundation grant n° 143/2006. The authors are grateful to Lianne Alink for her valuable revision of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Castanheira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catarina André
    • 1
  • Marine Oseredczuk
    • 2
  • Jayne Ireland
    • 2
  • Linda Owen
    • 3
  • Paul Robb
    • 3
  • Amanda Earnshaw
    • 3
  • Maria Antónia Calhau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Safety and NutritionNational Institute for Health Dr Ricardo JorgeLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Information Center on Food QualityFrench Food Safety AgencyMaisons-AlfortFrance
  3. 3.Proficiency Testing Science GroupCentral Science Laboratory CSLCorkUK

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