SAFOODS leaves a mark at the International Food Data Conference

A trio from the South African Food Data System (SAFOODS), housed within the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)’s Biostatistics Research Unit (BRU) left a mark on the international food data stage as they hugely contributed to the 13th International Food Data Conference (IFDC). The conference was held in Lisbon, Portugal from 14 - 18 October 2019.

Led by SAFOODS Manager, Dr Averalda van Graan, the team jointly contributed to one oral presentation and an additional six poster presentations at this year’s IFDC. Also joining Van Graan were Joelaine Chetty, Research Dietitian and Malory Jumat, Chief Research Technologist.

Convened biennially, this year’s installment was hosted under the theme: Challenges for Food Databases in the Bioinformatics Era” with the aim of allowing food composition database custodians and specialists to exchange experiences and knowledge and discuss aspects that may improve the food composition area and its usage. With a little over 150 delegates from across the globe, the five-day gathering tackled critical topics such as the generation and compilation of food composition data and their applications in the different areas such as nutrition, health, biodiversity, food technology, biotechnology, food policies, food nutrition education, and agriculture programmes and policies.

In their presentations, Team SAFOODS covered some of their ongoing work in areas such as the implications of sugar tax and sodium reduction regulation on the South African food composition database; their contribution to development and establishment of a country specific food composition database for Malawi; recipe calculation methodology trends and its impact on  the food database; using the standalone SAFOODS website as dissemination tool and assessing the impact of sodium regulations on the SAFOODS database.

The following were SAFOODS’s contributions:

  1. Van Graan AE, Chetty JM, Links MR, Masangwi S, Mangwela A, Ausman LM, Ghosh S, Marino-Costello E. A multi-country collaboration leads to the development and establishment of a country specific food composition database for Malawi (Oral presentation).
  2. Van Graan AE, Chetty JM, Links MR. Prioritizing strategy to meet national regulatory policy demands: Assessing the impact of sodium regulations on the SAFOODS database (Poster presentation).
  3. Chetty JM, Balakrishna Y, Links MR, Van Graan AE. Implications and outputs of historical recipe calculation method changes, across database versions (Poster presentation)
  4. Chetty JM, Links MR, Van Graan AE. The process and impact of legislation on fat class changes to a South African food database (Poster presentation).
  5. Chetty JM, Van Wyk E, Links MR, Van Graan AE. SAFOODS website: Using Google Analytics tool as an indicator for a South African food composition website data dissemination strategy. (Poster presentation).
  6. Links MR, Chetty JM, Van Graan AE. Opportunities and challenges experienced with the implementation of a web-based dietary intake analysis tool. (Poster presentation).
  7. Links MR, Chetty JM, Van Graan AE. Implications of sugar tax and sodium reduction regulation on the South African food composition database (Poster Presentation).

According to Dr Van Graan, not only did the team benefit from exchanging experiences and knowledge with fellow industry peers but created new partnerships and discussed aspects that may improve the South African Food Composition Database and its usage. “In striving to make SAFOODS a truly comprehensive South African research tool, collaborative work with other data generators plays an important role,” she said.