The Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI) is a global effort to create a public database of the biochemical composition and function of the food we eat using the latest mass spectrometry technologies and bioinformatics.

Food is at the center of society’s most pressing challenges and opportunities. 

Diet-related diseases account for 1 in 5 deaths around the world and dominant farming practices compromise the health of our planet. We need to transform food systems through data-driven solutions for healthier people and a healthier planet.  

Mission: The Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI) is building a global ecosystem and providing data tools to catalog the biomolecular composition of the world’s food supply.

Vision: We seek to enable data-driven solutions to improve human and planetary health.

What Is in Food? How Does This Vary?

Given the tremendous scientific and technological advances over the past few decades, it is hard to believe how little we know about what is in the food we eat. Technical challenges have prevented comprehensive, standardized, and accessible data on food composition. For example, most national food composition databases provide data on fewer than 150 biomolecules in food despite the 26,000+ food biomolecules estimated in the scientific literature, including macronutrients, micronutrients, specialized metabolites and exogenous compounds.

For the first time in history, with advanced analytics and a global coordinated approach, we can imagine knowing all the biomolecules in food and how they vary with environmental conditions and food system practices. With comprehensive profiling of all biomolecules in food along with where and how they were grown, the PTFI seeks to enable stakeholders across the food system to develop solutions to the challenges we face around food, in ways that best support human and planetary health in a changing world.

PTFI Global Ecosystem

The Periodic Table of Food Initiative’s mission and vision are dependent on building a globally inclusive network of partners across various sectors:

  • PTFI Secretariat
  • Research and Technology Partners
  • Centers of Excellence (CoE)
  • National Lab Hubs
  • Funders Consortium
  • Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee
  • PTFI Ambassadors

Data-Driven Solutions

PTFI data can be applied across the food system to inform practices, programs, and policies, including the following priority areas:

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Guidance on agricultural practices that use fewer resources for producing nutrient-dense foods that support healthy soils, biodiversity, and dietary quality.

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Evidence to inform what foods, such as protein sources, to produce where, how, and for whom, in ways that are sustainable for people and the planet in the context of climate change.

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Precisely define what comprises poor diets to inform dietary guidelines, product development, and food procurement towards empowering healthy and sustainable food choices.

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“Our goal at the PTFI is to create a globally shared food composition database that represents the edible biodiversity consumed by people across the planet.”
Selena Ahmed, Global Director of the PTFI
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PTFI Offerings

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We are developing standardized advanced analytical approaches and centralized data processing tools to catalog the biomolecular composition of the world’s food supply. Analytical platforms include metabolomics, lipidomics, proteomics, ionomics, glycomics as well as methods to facilitate the discovery of novel food biomolecules.

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We are enabling an ecosystem of scientists and research institutions around the world to provide standardized, comprehensive, and robust data on food biomolecular composition of their regional edible biodiversity through an open-access data platform with data exploration tools and ontologies for a wide variety of data users.

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We are developing accessible state-of-the art educational offerings in food, agriculture, nutrition, and health for diverse learners across the world to strengthen the capacity of scientists, practitioners, educators, and policymakers to analyze and utilize food composition data for a good food future.