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Latest Version of USDA's Premier Nutrient Database Released

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
July 30, 2003

An updated version of the Agricultural Research Service's flagship nutrient database was launched today by ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency. The database is the major authoritative source of food composition in the United States.

This year, 447 new entries have been added to the "USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16," or SR16 for short, for a total of 6,661 food items. The database is managed by ARS' Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center (BARC).

Each food item is shown with an information profile that provides data from among 125 possible food components, such as vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. SR16 is available in a variety of formats, including a consumer-friendly, downloadable version with a nifty search feature for both stand-alone and portable computers.

The database includes both generic and brand-name food items. Information is derived from a variety of rigorously evaluated sources, including USDA-sponsored laboratory analyses, qualified food-industry data and available scientific literature.

Among many upgrades, values for individual carotenoids and for vitamin K have been included for the first time. The carotenoids are a group of red, yellow and orange pigments in fruits and vegetables that may impart beneficial health effects. They include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene and lutein+zeaxanthin. The nutrient profiles for many raw fruits, as well as raw and cooked vegetables, have been updated. And the reporting of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals has undergone major updates.

The release also includes new analytical data for many retail meat cuts trimmed to 1/8 inch of external fat, along with updated values for many cuts trimmed of all external fat.

The ARS-BARC Nutrient Data Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., provides free electronic access to SR16 online from its web site and via download onto certain personal computers, hand-held digital assistants and laptops. SR16 also will soon be available for purchase on CD-ROM.

To access SR16, go to: