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ICBO 2016 Workshop #W11


Development of a Global Food Ontology (Farm to Fork)

Workshop type

Discussion group (Talks + Discussion)


William Hsiao, BC Public Health Lab

Co-organizer(s) Emma Griffiths
Damion Dooley
Pier Buttigieg
Robert Hoehndorf
Fiona Brinkman
Website N/A
Workshop Abstract

Several resources and standards for indexing food descriptors currently exist, but their content and interrelations are not semantically and logically coherent. Simultaneously, the need to represent knowledge about food is central to many fields including biomedicine and sustainable development. This workshop aims to initialize the development of FoodOn - a new OBO Library ontology about food - which addresses the “food role” of materials in natural ecosystems as well as human-centric categorisation and handling of food. The latter will be the initial focus of the ontology, and aims to develop semantics for food safety, food security, the agricultural and animal husbandry practices linked to food production; culinary, nutritional and chemical ingredients and processes; and cultural practices associated with food.  FoodOn’s scope is ambitious and will require input from multiple domains. FoodOn will import or map to material in existing ontologies and standards and will create content to cover gaps in the representation of food-related products and processes. Our workshop aims to delineate the tasks and engage communities which can realize a sustainable and extensible FoodOn through the creation of an open-membership consortium. The organizers and speakers will present their initial use cases and strategies, the resources currently available, as well as key areas in need of development. A discussion session will follow and strategies to maximize FoodOn’s  usefulness and ensure its perpetuity will be discussed. Such a global ontology will standardize information transfer between national and international organizations, and allow integration of diverse data entities.

The format for presentations is suggested below.

  • Presentation
  • Moderated Discussion to specify subdomains for a global Food Ontology

A robust and comprehensive Food Ontology is strongly connected to the theme of this year’s ICBO meeting. To our knowledge such an all-encompassing food ontology does not exist. The creation of such a Food Ontology is a large undertaking and is much more tractable through a consortium framework. This ICBO workshop will be critical to organizing and initiating an international Food Ontology consortium. The goals of this workshop would include

  • the partition FoodOn into subdomains that are manageable by small working groups
  • devising and coordinating and work plan moving forward.

Membership in, and contributions to the International Food Ontology Consortium will demonstrate leadership in the standardization of the Food domain, which is crucial for many initiatives, making this a very attractive session for many researchers. As a result, we expect considerable interest and participation in this workshop.

Funding source (if any) N/A