By Nari Nayini, Ph.D – Food and Cannabis Consultant
The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service ARS has launched a new nutrient database, hailed as an “essential resource” for the food industry, health and nutrition professionals, policymakers and consumers. The database called FoodData Central is an integrated food and nutrient data system, that provides online access to nutrient profile on a wide range of food products. It will link to relevant agri-research data from multiple sources, improve transparency on source of nutrition information and provide data based on the latest scientific research to reflect the marketplace.
The FoodData Central will operate under the USDA’s ARS’ supervision at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC) and hosted by the National Agricultural Library (NAL).
The nutrient data library includes five distinct types of food and nutrient composition data, gathered in the same place. It incorporates the data the USDA has provided for years; in addition, it also adds two new types of data that are grouped under the following topics:
- The “Foundation Foods” section provides nutrient information and extensive underlying metadata to assist users understand the variability in the nutrient values of foods.
- The “Experimental Foods” section provides information about foods produced by agricultural researchers and allows users to see how factors like climate, soil types and agricultural practices affect the nutritional profile of foods.
The new system’s design seeks to reinforce the capacity for rigorous research and policy applications via its search capabilities, downloadable datasets and detailed documentation. R & D Application developers will be able to incorporate the information into their applications.