USDA Announces New Open Data Partnership for Public Health
Branded Food Products Database Launched with Nutrition Details on Over 80,000 Brand Names
NEW YORK, September 16, 2016—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today officially launched the USDA Branded Food Products Database, a free online resource for families, the food industry and researchers containing nutrition details on more than 80,000 name brand prepared and packaged foods available at restaurants and grocery stores. The announcement was made at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit.
"There is so much data from the public and private sectors that can improve the health and quality of life for millions of people, if it can be made more readily available," said Vilsack. "The partnership that produced the database is more proof that governments, nonprofits, businesses and researchers are capable fostering scientific innovation by making life-changing data open and available to parents, healthcare professionals, scientists, businesses and everyone interested. I look forward to being surprised by innovations we have not even thought of yet as a result of so much information becoming so reliable and accessible."
The USDA Agricultural Research Service partnered with the International Life Sciences Institute North America (ILSI North America), GS1 US, 1WorldSync, and Label Insight to develop the new database and user-friendly interface to make it easier for private food companies to add and update data. The database provides a transparent source of information that can assist health professionals identifying foods and portion size for people with food allergies, diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions. Common consumer health and nutrition Apps may also use the data as a resource to bring information to consumers on a phone or watch in real time while shopping or dining out.
The Branded Food Products Database greatly expands and enhances, the USDA National Nutrient Database, which contained basic information on about 8,800 branded foods and has served as a main source of food composition data for government, researchers and the food industry. As information is added in the coming months, it is expected the new database will include up to 500,000 products with an expanded level of detail including serving size, servings per package and nutrients shown on the Nutrition Facts Panel or the Expanded Nutrition Facts Panel, plus weights and measures, ingredient list and sub-list, and a date stamp associated with current formulation of the product.
At the open data summit, Vilsack also announced the release of an update to the Global Agricultural Concept Scheme (GACS), a unifying thesaurus of over 350,000 terms in 28 languages that establishes common terminology for data users across the agriculture and nutrition fields worldwide. GACS is a collaboration between USDA, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) to make it easier for researchers and policy makers work together using the same technical language.
The GODAN initiative was co-founded by the U.S. Government and is an international partnership of over 350 organizations representing governments, donors, businesses, and not-for-profits working to make agriculture and nutrition data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide.
The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. The Agency strives to find solutions to agricultural problems affecting Americans every day. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to ensure high-quality, safe food and other agricultural products; assess the nutritional needs of Americans; sustain a competitive agricultural economy; enhance the natural resource base and the environment; and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.