Agricultural Research Service released an integrated food and nutrient data system today that provides online access to nutrient profile information about a wide variety of foods and food products.
The system, known as FoodData Central, should prove to be an essential resource for researchers, nutrition professionals, health care providers, product developers, policy makers and consumers. FoodData Central will be managed by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC) and hosted by the National Agricultural Library (NAL). It provides links to relevant agricultural research data from multiple sources, enhances the transparency about the sources of nutrition information, provides data that is based on the latest scientific research, and is representative of the marketplace.
FoodData Central contains—in one place—five distinct types of food and nutrient composition data. It incorporates the data USDA has provided for years, but adds two new types of data that are grouped under new topics.”Foundation Foods” provides expanded nutrient information and extensive underlying metadata that will help users understand the variability in the nutrient values of foods. “Experimental Foods” links to data about foods produced by agricultural researchers that will allow users to see for themselves how factors such as climate, soils and agricultural practices can affect a food’s nutritional profile.
The new system is designed to strengthen the capacity for rigorous research and policy applications through its search capabilities, downloadable datasets, and detailed documentation. Application developers will be able to incorporate the information into their applications and web sites.
The constantly changing and expanding food supply is a challenge to those who are interested in using food and nutrient data. Including diverse types of data in one data system gives researchers, policymakers, and other audiences a key resource for addressing vital nutrition and health issues.