Chair Nutrition and Health, RIKILT - Veiligheid & Gezondheid, WU Agrotechnologie en voedingswetenschappen
Capacity building in food and nutrition aims to enhance knowledge and support infrastructural development in this field. International Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS) was established on the basis of the recommendations of an international group convened under the auspices of the United Nations University (UNU). The European Food Information Resource Network (EuroFIR, Network of Excellence) aims to develop and integrate food composition data through Europe including CEE countries. EuroFIR, joined forces with the United Nations University/UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition, in capacity building. Inventories have been initiated by EuroFIR on food composition data base status and on capacity development needs. The inventories showed that many activities are already ongoing, providing a good potential for developments needed. Substantial differences exist between the countries, including lack of understanding about the concepts and what quality implies. Assessing the quality, frequency of the capacity development activities and the number of staff trained is needed. Several countries lacked adequate information; 6 of 8 had established Food Composition Databases, but none had electronic versions of the Food Composition Databases. Most had national databases, but needs for additional equipment seems considerable. Education, training, workshops, networking and sharing of experiences were cross-cutting themes for most countries. It is concluded that capacity development is a long-term, continuing process, with policies, plans, and activities and should have national priority. Special attention should be given to the capacity development dimensions generated by global and European strategies. Capacity development networks would be important tools in addressing present and future needs in various countries. The EuroFIR training and exchange program is a valuable tool in achieving this.