International Training Workshop on:
Metrological Concepts for Strengthening Food and Nutritional Measurements
(June 26-30, 2006, at CFTRI, Mysore, India.
Course Director: Dr. Venkatesh Iyengar, (Email – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Young investigators in the food and nutritional sciences, professionals (with PhD/MS level education in
food and nutrition or related sciences) from food safety institutions and laboratory managers from food
industries; in particular, dynamic young professionals aspiring to become future leaders in public health
and food safety issues will greatly benefit from this course. Number of participants limited to 25.
Food safety has become a global issue. Different laboratories generate analytical findings frequently and
a sound basis recognized as traceability (internationally accepted basis built on principles of metrology;
see metrological concepts below) needs to be established for judging their accuracy merits. Such a basis
is helpful in safeguarding the comparability of the results between laboratories. Food and nutritional
measurements backed by metrological approaches, reflect authority. Accomplishing this goal is central to the emerging role of food and nutritional metrology.
Metrological concepts: Metrology is a specialized discipline that permits us to understand the intricacies
governing the accuracy of an analytical pursuit. It deals with the science of measurements irrespective of the
field of application and regardless of the size of the measurement uncertainty. Uncertainty refers to doubt about the validity of the result of a measurement, and therefore expresses the quality of an analytical
result. Hence, understanding the steps of a measurement process (and the associated analytical
uncertainties) is a pre-requisite for enhancing the reliability of an analytical finding (e.g. minimizing
false positive and negative conclusions). The overall outcome facilitates harmonization of measurements
(i.e. comparability of a measurement result by different methods at different times and locations)
through a process known as traceability chain (e.g. validation by certified reference materials, CRM).
Metrology in Physics and Chemistry: In the world of metrology, measurements of mass, length, volume,
electrical current, among others categorized under physical measurements are directly traceable to the
international standard units, known as SI (e.g. meter for length) and are well accepted. Similarly,
metrology in chemistry offers possibilities in some cases to link chemical measurements to the SI (e.g.
quantity expressed in moles) in conformity with metrological requirements. However, it is not possible
to do so for complex matrices and in this case, measurements may have to be carried out under indirect
approaches requiring traceability link to be established to emphasize reliability.
Metrology in Biology: In biology (including physiological, food and nutritional measurements), a beginning has already been made with the application of metrological concepts for (i) food composition
(e.g. including labeling and food safety) where reliable measurements are being conducted by
internationally accredited laboratories, and (ii) in certifying natural matrix CRMs. Further, certain bio-
medical measurements are chemical measurements (e.g. assessment of nutritional toxicology using
body-fluids, assays for clinical entities such as cholesterol and glucose, among others) and several
CRMs have been established through which traceability link to SI units is feasible. However, many
biological (and physiological) measurements are carried out under complex conditions (e.g. nutritional,
physiological and other metabolic states) and are frequently assessed by indirect means. Such
measurements lack evidence of a proven metrological link and are still open for improvements in
analytical reliability by applying metrological principles. Therefore, there is a need for introduction of
metrological concepts to biological measurements (food, nutritional and physiological measurements,
among others) to enhance the authority of the analytical findings.
This workshop facilitates public health and nutrition investigators to develop awareness for current
concepts in measurement practice (the process relates to metrology, the science of the measurements).
The course focuses on:
1. Metrological concepts readily applicable to physical, chemical and biological systems
(traceability and comparability of measurements; sampling and metrology; compatibility of
measurement procedures; harmonization of chemical measurements).
2. Metrology in Biology (i.e. biological and physiological measurements). In biology (which
includes the food and nutrition areas), a beginning has already been made with the application of
metrological concepts for some areas in food safety and through food based natural matrix CRMs.
However, many areas are still open for improvements in analytical reliability by applying metrologically
sound procedures. Several examples will be presented.
3. Highlighting the deficiencies in setting up good analytical procedures and emphasizing the
role of quality assurance in analytical measurements; presenting established quality control procedures
in practice; outlining the role of certified and other reference materials, their preparation and proper use
in food and dietary investigations; dietary studies and food and nutrient intake measurements.
4. Applying stable isotope techniques in nutrition research (e.g. isotope techniques for studying
energy metabolism, bioavailability of nutrients, body composition among many other applications).
5. Enhancing the participant’s awareness to issues and trends in nutrient food fortification, (e.g.
nutrition and HIV/AIDS, iron and vitamin A situations, and cost-benefit aspects of food fortification,
6. Facilitating evaluation of the economic benefits brought about by strict adherence to analytical
quality control needs, and the need for strengthening the human capacity to achieve reliable
measurement results as a basis for sustainability and national development.
The 5-day workshop has several modules to provide up to date information in a down to earth practical
mode and provides for interactive discussions; modules are designed with flexibility and will be
presented with a mix and match approach depending upon the composition of the training participants.
Module 1: Metrological concepts applicable to physical, chemical and biological systems
Metrology in Biology is an attempt to connect the concept of traceability applicable in physical and chemical
metrology to the measurements undertaken for different biological parameters. Food and nutrition and certain
physiological measurements are a combination of chemical, metabolic and physiological measurements. Key to
resolving the difficulty is harmonization of measurements without seriously compromising the physiological and
Metrological concepts in practice namely, metabolic parameters to enable comparability of results.
traceability and methodological comparability of measurement procedures, compatibility of analytical
techniques used and avenues available for harmonization of chemical measurements will be presented.
Module 2: Milestones in biological trace element research For a long time, the lack of a multidisciplinary approach had been the Achilles heel of biological trace
element research. Obtaining analytically meaningful and biologically interpretable data for trace
elements, biochemical entities and metabolites in biomedical and food matrices is a challenging task and
requires dedicated efforts through a multidisciplinary approach by health sciences investigators. An
account of the events that contributed to the overall progress in this area is presented. Problems faced at
field level investigations are highlighted with several examples.
Module 3: Challenges in dealing with biological matrices for compositional studies A prudent combination of analytical awareness and biological insight is crucial for success in
biomedical and food/nutritional studies. Characteristics of biological matrices, influence of presampling
factors (e.g. status of a sample before a sample is obtained). In particular, difficulties in dealing with
body fluids (clinical specimens) and food as a bio-matrix are illustrated with practical details.
Module 4: Analytical quality assurance and analytical quality control: two different concepts
Good analytical results are expensive, but bad ones do not solve the problem. Analytical quality
assurance (AQA) and analytical quality control (AQC) in practice and tools available (e.g. primary,
secondary and tertiary measurement standards (reference materials RM). Matrix influence on analytical
accuracy, proper use of RMs and evaluation of analytical errors associated with a measurement process
will be covered. Food and nutrition laboratory certification and accreditation to be discussed.
Module 5: Food and nutritional (and selected clinical) RMs Food matrix pyramid and matching RMs and database survey of available food and nutritional RMs.
Preparation of food and nutritional RMs. Matrix stability of RMs and stratified concentration ranges of
certified RMs (covering a range of concentration in a similar matrix).
Module 6: Food Composition and chemical measurements for nutrient intake Laboratory assessment of dietary intake of organic and inorganic nutrients, toxic constituents relevant to
food safety, including nutritional toxicology. Direct and indirect methodologies and discrepancy due to
conversion factors highlighted. Analytical results on xenobiotics in certain specimens (e.g. breast milk)
are influenced by choices in sample selection, sample pooling, analysis, and even the basis used for
expressing the results. Specific foods as dietary constituents (e.g. fish) influence the levels of persistent organic pollutants. These are important considerations in food safety and quality assurance tools
available to mitigate the analytical part of the problem will be presented.
Module 7: Stable isotopes techniques in nutrition research Some aspects of conventional vs recent developments in analytical techniques (e.g. stable isotope
techniques for studying energy metabolism, bioavailability of nutrients, body composition among many
other applications) are discussed. Comparison with selected conventional methods.
Module 8: Issues and trends in nutrient food fortification Analytical requirements, bioavailability considerations, cost of fortifying with a given nutrient, AQA procedures, field applications (e.g. nutrition and HIV/AIDS, iron and vitamin A, and cost-benefit aspects of food fortification, etc.) will be reviewed. Specific country examples will be discussed
Module 9: Economic impact of analytical quality assurance (examples)
Economic impact of AQA highlighted: analytical quality of laboratory results has serious implications on decision making in public health. Examples and national development context will be covered.
Module 10: Capacity development issues Capacity development (CD) issues surrounding food and nutrition and current efforts for strengthening CD in developing countries will be elaborated. There is a need to develop future leadership with
multidisciplinary skills in technical, management, policy analysis and advocacy. Such qualities are needed to envision designs for meeting client needs and for better use of existing resources. The
technical part, in particular the analytical expertise (with special reference to food and nutrition) needed to substantiate public health investigations will be presented.
Module 11: Course conclusion with lessons learnt, evaluation, comments, suggestions
1. The course is developed for demonstrating measurable improvements in the accuracy of analytical
results for responding to food safety and few other public health concerns.
2. The need for harmonization in generating analytical data calls for mandatory laboratory accreditation,
proficiency testing and collaborative efforts between laboratories belonging to government, academia and
industry. The task of translating regulatory act into practice keeping in focus the industry’s technical capabilities and providing realistic metrological link can be provided by the use of an appropriate CRM.
3. Reliable food and nutritional (F&N) measurement is the key for success in a world of borderless-trade. Enhancing the reliability demands integration of metrological concepts into the measurement process.
4. Integration of metrology into F&N measurements strengthens the very base of nutrition education for
young professionals (scientific and technical) and improves institutional measurement infrastructure. Thus, it contributes to the much-needed capacity development in F&N. Collectively, these inputs
generate concrete economic benefits from well-designed public health projects to meet client needs.
Workshop director and resource person (s)
One full time facilitator (Dr. Venkatesh Iyengar) and one part time (CFTRI). 4-6 focal point lectures are foreseen on day-1 to utilize the multi-talented attendees to the capacity development symposium.
Inquiries about workshop participation, schedules, support and other information can be directed to: Dr. Venkatesh Iyengar
6202 Maiden Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817, USA.