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List of terms in food composition work

 Updated 2020-01-22

There is not complete consensus concerning the terminology to be used in food composition. This may partly be due to the very long traditions food composition work has in some parts of the world, and partly due to fact that it really does not matter.

It is not the intention here to create a larger dictionary of encyclopedia. It is only just to point out some differences in terminology used by different authorities, because there are some basic terms in food composition work that from time to time may cause confusion or misunderstanding.
An example is the different terminology used (maybe by tradition) in USA/Europe compared with the terminology used by Greenfield & Southgate (FAO 2003) when it comes to the data compilation process. This is illustrated in the following table where each row signifies a certain step or entity in the data compilation process:


Some of these differences may not do much harm, but they may cause misunderstandings. Especially the term Reference meaning two completely different things in the the two systems will evidently cause misunderstandings.
Therefore, there is a need for a list of terms used in food composition work with an explanation of the terms. The list of terms will be collected from many different sources.

 A Terminology Database

The list of terms or the Terminology Database is formed by entries from multiple authoritative sources in food composition, sampling and analytical methodology (see also reference list at the bottom of this page).

The database contains the terms, their definitions and a reference to the origin of term and definition. In cases where two or more references give different or contradicting definitions for the same term, this will be indicated in the definition with reference to the other source(s) of definitions.

An entry in the terminology database will typically take the following form:

Term:   Laboratory sample
Definition:   The sample or subsample(s) sent to or received by the laboratory. When the laboratory sample is further prepared (reduced) by subdividing, mixing, grinding or by combinations of these operations, the result is the test sample. When no preparation of the laboratory sample is required, the laboratory sample is the test sample. A test portion is removed from the test sample for the performance of the test or for analysis. The laboratory sample is the final sample from the point of view of sample collection but it is the initial sample from the point of view of the laboratory. Several laboratory samples may be prepared and sent to different laboratories or to the same laboratory for different purposes. When sent to the same laboratory, the set is generally considered as a single laboratory sample and is documented as a single sample.
Reference:   IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology, Electronic version



List to be continued.


First Albanian food composition tables (2022).

First Albanian food composition tables (2022) published with assistance from NPPC-VÚP in the frame of the Slovak Republic Official Development Support Programme.
Download here.
Swedish food composition database updated.

New version of the Swedish food composition database with updated nutritional values for several food groups and new foods and iodine values added. See the Swedish Food Agency's website.
First edition of the Kyrgyz Food Composition Table.

Kyrgyzstan has released their first national food composition table. For more information, see the EuroFIR website.
2021 Release of the New Zealand Food Composition Database.

The 2021 update of New Zealand food composition database (NZFCD) released online on 31st March 2022. For more information, see the EuroFIR website.