The 2014 update of the Agricultural Research Service’s USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27, has been launched. The database is managed by scientists with the ARS Nutrient Data Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and is the major authoritative source of food-nutrient profiles in the United States.
The laboratory is part of the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center and provides free electronic access to the National Nutrient Database via the World Wide Web. The entire database is also available in a variety of formats that can be downloaded free of charge for use on personal computers and for upload into professional software programs.
Each year, new food-nutrient profiles are added to the database, and existing nutrient profiles are updated using data generated by USDA-ARS through its National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program and other collaborations, including with the food industry. The analytical cost to produce a food-nutrient profile for a single commercially processed food, representing multiple brands from multiple locations, is estimated to be up to $50,000, according to experts.
The Internet “dashboard” that users see after launching the online version of the database has been reorganized so that users can more easily select and view food-nutrient profiles from individual food groups. Another new consumer-oriented upgrade allows users to look up the amount of a specific nutrient within any one of the database’s thousands of food items. For example, a person whose doctor recommends eating more dietary fiber might sort all foods by fiber content from highest to lowest. A consumer who wants to increase calcium intake might sort by calcium content of foods.
To use the new feature, go to the website listed below and then click on “Nutrient List” from the menu options. Next click “Select nutrient,” and a drop-down list of more than 100 nutrients will appear, such as protein, calcium, carbohydrate, cholesterol, fats, caffeine, and vitamin K. After selecting a single nutrient, choose either “All Foods” or one from the “Food Groups” list. For example, a vegetarian may want to run a report on the protein content of foods ranked from highest to lowest, but only from among the plant food groups. Last, choose “Nutrient Content” to sort by, “Household” as your measure, and hit “Go.”
Users include the food industry, government nutrition-monitoring groups, commercial weight-loss enterprises, institutional food-service operations, university and foreign investigators, and more. The data is also downloaded and imported into multiple interactive online programs and mobile apps, most notably USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.com, a free resource where consumers can plan, track, and assess their diets based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Nutrient Data Laboratory has continued to make updates to sodium content as a line item in food-nutrient profiles to stay abreast of the food industry’s ongoing, self-regulatory efforts to reduce the salt content in foods. Other current changes include additions and updates of foods from both full-service and casual-dining restaurants.
This research is part of Human Nutrition, an ARS national program (#107) described at www.nps.ars.usda.gov.
"Latest Update of USDA’s Nutrient Database Released" was published in the October 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.