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Genes Nutr. 2018 May 30;13:14. doi: 10.1186/s12263-018-0603-9. eCollection 2018.

Validation of biomarkers of food intake-critical assessment of candidate biomarkers.

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1Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
3International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Nutrition and Metabolism Section, Biomarkers Group, Lyon, France.
4Agroscope, Federal Office of Agriculture, Berne, Switzerland.
5University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.
6INRA, Human Nutrition Unit, Université Clermont Auvergne, F63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France.
7UCD Institute of Food and Health, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
8Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
9Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
10Biomarkers and Nutrimetabolomics Laboratory, Department of Nutrition, Food Sciences and Gastronomy, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
11CIBER de Fragilidad y Envejecimiento Saludable (CIBERFES), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Barcelona, Spain.
12European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy.
13University of Ulster, Coleraine, NIR UK.
2Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Biomarkers of food intake (BFIs) are a promising tool for limiting misclassification in nutrition research where more subjective dietary assessment instruments are used. They may also be used to assess compliance to dietary guidelines or to a dietary intervention. Biomarkers therefore hold promise for direct and objective measurement of food intake. However, the number of comprehensively validated biomarkers of food intake is limited to just a few. Many new candidate biomarkers emerge from metabolic profiling studies and from advances in food chemistry. Furthermore, candidate food intake biomarkers may also be identified based on extensive literature reviews such as described in the guidelines for Biomarker of Food Intake Reviews (BFIRev). To systematically and critically assess the validity of candidate biomarkers of food intake, it is necessary to outline and streamline an optimal and reproducible validation process. A consensus-based procedure was used to provide and evaluate a set of the most important criteria for systematic validation of BFIs. As a result, a validation procedure was developed including eight criteria, plausibility, dose-response, time-response, robustness, reliability, stability, analytical performance, and inter-laboratory reproducibility. The validation has a dual purpose: (1) to estimate the current level of validation of candidate biomarkers of food intake based on an objective and systematic approach and (2) to pinpoint which additional studies are needed to provide full validation of each candidate biomarker of food intake. This position paper on biomarker of food intake validation outlines the second step of the BFIRev procedure but may also be used as such for validation of new candidate biomarkers identified, e.g., in food metabolomic studies.


Assessment of food intake; Biomarker; Metabolomics; Nutrition; Review; Validation

Conflict of interest statement

Not applicable.The author Hans Verhagen is employed with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, the present article is published under the sole responsibility of Hans Verhagen and the positions and opinions presented in this article are those of the authors alone and are not intended to represent the views or scientific works of EFSA. The other authors declare that they have no competing interests.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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