Food Composition Challenges
Nutrient contents in foods can vary significantly because:
- of environmental, genetic and processing influences such as feed, soil, climate, genetic resources (varieties/cultivars, breeds), storage conditions, processing, fortification and market share;
- each country has its own consumption pattern resulting in country-specific foods, recipes and brand-name foods (commercial foods with the same brand-name can have varying composition due to taste or fortification regulations across borders)
- food biodiversity highly influences the composition of foods: nutrient values may vary up to 1000 times among different varieties of the same foods. This means that the nutrient content of foods can vary as much among foods as among varieties of the same food.
Therefore, each country has specific data needs as they have different compositions of their foods, even if some people think that foods have similar composition among countries due to globalization.
’’Inadequate food composition data and their use may then lead to erroneous research results, wrong policy decisions (particularly in nutrition, agriculture and health), misleading food labels, false health claims and inadequate food choices’’ U. Ruth Charrondiere (FAO official)