The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is globally recognized as being at the forefront of food composition analysis for decades. This week they launched their latest compositional analysis tool - FoodData Central - bringing the USDA and the research community closer toward unlocking data unification at the federal level with reference to food and beverage composition databases.
The first record of a nutrient composition database recorded by Dr. William Atwater in 1906
Since Dr. Atwater’s first record in 1906, the USDA has lead the way in terms of publicly available nutritional analysis. It has developed and hosted what many in the research community refer to as the gold standard of databases - the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) and Standard Reference (SR) databases - both of which provide the nutrition values for a large percentage of food and beverages and commodity based ingredients. These two data sets are commonly leveraged within our industry for academic research, nutritional label development, CPG R&D, various privately funded health and wellness initiatives and applications, whilst also being synonymous with national surveys like What We Eat in America, and the dietary intake component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
More recently the USDA has established the Partnership for Public Health, collaborating with GS1, ILSI North America, University of Maryland, 1WorldSync and of course - Label Insight. The partnership together has launched the USDA Branded Food Products database, of which Label Insight is a proud data supplier, contributing over 95% of the food products that make up this database. Last year the Branded Food Products Database clocked 2,288,337 users, making it the third most accessed API on data.gov.
In 2017, modernization efforts began for unifying the nutrient databases where FNDDS, SR, and Branded Foods datasets will be combined in a new harmonized USDA food and nutrient data system called FoodData Central. This upgraded view into the world of federal food composition analysis will help to modernize the current suite of tools, bringing with it the advantage of a more unified perspective and turnkey experience.
FoodData Central launched on April 3rd. Like its predecessors, FoodData Central is an open data initiative which makes all nutrient data in the system available for industry and researchers. Individuals can review specific nutrient profiles for food and beverage products as well as their associated portions to generate recipes or to document patient intake, among other applications of the data.
Of the new features, the deep search capability allowing users to search and filter by product, category, ingredient and nutrient across multiple databases (SR, FNDDS and Branded Foods) is a new standout feature, that will be sure to excite the thousands of users already active on the USDA platform. On launch, FoodData Central has 260,370 products available, of which Label Insight provides over 95%.
Label Insight is a proud contributor towards the Partnership for Public Health and the USDA Branded Foods Database, and is excited to see the launch of FoodData Central. We’re excited to see what impact a more centralized, unified and open approach to food composition data can make to the public health domain.