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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Food and Nutrient Changes: Software for Ensuring Data Quality

Authors
item Anderson, Ellen
item Steinfeldt, Lois
item Ahuja, Jaspreet

Submitted to: Journal of Food Composition and Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 3, 2004
Publication Date: June 1, 2004
Citation: Anderson, E.T., Steinfeldt, L.C., Ahuja, J.K.C. 2004. Food and nutrient changes: Software for ensuring data quality. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 17:557-564.

Interpretive Summary: The Food Database Management System (FDMS) is a software application designed to manage and maintain the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) technical support files used for large scale dietary surveys. Food and nutrient databases must be continually maintained and updated to reflect changes in the food supply and improvements in data values. Staff of the Food Surveys Research Group use FDMS to accomplish a variety of complex tasks involving the Food Code, Food Weights and Measures, Survey Nutrient, and Recipe and Formulas databases. FDMS was created using ObjectPal, the object-based, event-driven, visual programming language of the commercially available database program Paradox® (version 9). With FDMS, users can update the database files with new information such as adding a new food code or adding a brand name and gram weight to an existing food code. Another important feature is the ability to integrate time-related changes into the database files. Better data values, due to improved analytical procedures and sampling methods, can replace older values in the database. When there is a true change to the food product itself, FDMS allows users to specify these time-specific changes with start dates and end dates. Programmed into FDMS is a series of automated quality control checks which monitor processes in real-time to prevent potential errors from occurring. Interfile quality control checks are also in place so that related files across the different databases can be kept in sync and updated. FDMS also contains historical information, such as frequencies of food data used in previous surveys, which staff can utilize when setting priorities for database updates. Tracking different types of changes to data is important for studying trends in food and nutrient intakes over time. FDMS facilitates these changes in the database files and helps ensures data quality with built in quality control checks. USDA users of FDMS will benefit through more efficient database updates that require less time and resources. More frequent database updates result in more timely databases that reflect the latest dietary information available.

Technical Abstract: The Food Database Management System (FDMS) is a software application designed to manage and maintain the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) technical support files used for large scale dietary surveys. Objective: Food and nutrient databases must be continually maintained and updated to reflect changes in the food supply and improvements in data values. Staff of the Food Surveys Research Group use FDMS to accomplish a variety of complex tasks involving the Food Code, Food Weights and Measures, Survey Nutrient, and Recipe and Formulas databases. Methods and Materials: FDMS was created using ObjectPal, the object-based, event-driven, visual programming language of the commercially available database program Paradox® (version 9). The design of FDMS is modular such that different tasks can be programmed and implemented separately and user access can be controlled. Results: With FDMS, users can update the database files with new information such as adding a new food code or adding a brand name and gram weight to an existing food code. Another important feature is the ability to integrate time-related changes into the database files. Better data values, due to improved analytical procedures and sampling methods, can replace older values in the database. When there is a true change to the food product itself, FDMS allows users to specify these time-specific changes with start dates and end dates. Programmed into FDMS is a series of automated quality control checks which monitor processes in real-time to prevent potential errors from occurring. Interfile quality control checks are also in place so that related files across the different databases can be kept in sync and updated. FDMS also contains historical information, such as frequencies of food data used in previous surveys, which staff can utilize when setting priorities for database updates. Significance: Tracking different types of changes to data is important for studying trends in food and nutrient intakes over time. FDMS facilitates these changes in the database files and helps ensures data quality with built in quality control checks. An overview of FDMS features and user interface examples will be provided.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014