There are numerous institutions that set the standards for different aspects of the food value chain, including: The European Food Safety Authority, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the US Department of Agriculture and the US Food and Drug Administration.

While these institutions all have a specific mandate and look at food from slightly different angles, they all need to refer to common concepts, such as types of food, food sources, food components and organisms. As such, over the past few decades, each institution has developed and maintained official classifications to be used in their respective area of authority. However, despite collaboration between institutions and reciprocal awareness of each other’s work, there is no official agreement on a shared set of terms at the time of writing, nor any formalised alignment between these classifications.

The consequence is that organisations, companies and government bodies use different classifications depending on the most relevant authority they have to comply with. This makes it very difficult for all actors in the food value chain to identify the relevant classifications, keep them up to date and integrate food value chain data across geographic regions and across different parts of the value chain.

This Working Group will:

  • Survey the existing classifications managed by the domain authorities who agree to participate in the WG; survey and collect mapping work already done, identify essential missing mappings.

  • Design: decide which types of vocabularies are most appropriate for publishing the classifications (simple concept scheme, ontology…); agree on a methodology (quality criteria, curatorial pipelines…); choose a vocabulary editing platform.

  • Governance: decide on institutional responsibilities, ownership, and related technical issues like stable URIs, collaborative maintenance etc.

  • Publish the classifications and their mappings following Linked Data best practices.

  • In cases in which this has not been done already and where deemed essential, do remaining alignment work.

  • Provide basic vocabulary services to reuse terms and mappings in tools and portals.

  • If deemed useful, agree on which concepts are common and can be published as an authoritative common set of URIs and which concepts should remain in different specialised vocabularies.
  • The final objective of this work is to provide a set of semantically interlinked URIs for key food product concepts as an infrastructural component that will facilitate the development of both software for actors in the food value chain and added-value integrated services that need to track food products.

    The WG will be launched in November 2017. A “soft launch” will take place on 6/11/2017 at the IC-FOODS conference to be held at UC Davis.


    Proponent: UC Davis under the IC-FOODS project.

    Key founding partners: FAO, EFSA, IFPRI, USDA, University of British Columbia Hsiao Lab, UK FSA, Tufts University, OBO Foundry, GACS team.

    Prospective partners: UN Statistical Division? WHO, Danish Food Informatics.

    Participation in this WG is open to everyone who has an interest in seeing key food classifications being published, interlinked and easily reusable and can effectively contribute to this achievement.


    You can express your interest by filling in this form.

    Working Group Contact: Not yet confirmed


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