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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Acronyms and Documentation Terms

This is a definition of acronyms and terms used on this home page and in documentation for the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference



Data from laboratory analysis of one or more food samples 



Association of Official Analytical Chemists, independent scientific organization which published a reference of methods used in analyzing the composition of foods.



Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA



Agricultural Research Service, USDA

Atwater System


System developed by W.O. Atwater to calculate the energy contributed by protein, fat, and carbohydrates to foods.



Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center



Nutrient values computed or estimated by mathematical adjustment. Normalizing nutrients to an average moisture or fat value, use of retention factors, and substitution of similar ingredients in a formulation or recipe are examples calculated values.



Code of Federal Regulations



Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA; Has information on the Dietary Guidelines, and

Derivation code


A 4-character, alphabetic code used to document Standard Reference nutrient data source and quality.

Discontinued item


Food product no longer sold or available commercially; item removed from Standard Reference Database.



Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



Food and Nutrition Information Center.  One of NAL's information centers.

Food Group


NDL categorizes foods into similar groups and assigns a Food Group Code, such as cereal grains and pasta (20), beverages (14), vegetables(11), etc.

Food Group Code


Two-digit numeric code identifying individual Food Groups. Food Groups are further classified by subcodes, to produce a four-digit numeric code. For example, fresh pork is 1010, while cured pork is 1020. Food group codes are independent of NDB numbers.



The estimated proportion by weight of ingredients in a multi-ingredient commerical food item when other characteristics of the food item are known or can be set. Characteristics which may be known or can be set include: order of predominance of ingredients, retention codes, target moisture level of individual ingredients and final product, and lower and upper bounds on the proportion of any individual ingredient. As a minimum, to derive a formulation, some nutrient values must be known and flagged for matching.



Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

Handbook 8 (AH-8)


USDA Agriculture Handbook No. 8, Composition of Foods



Home and Garden Bulletin No. 72, Nutritive Value of Foods

Household measure


Standard weight (sometimes with dimensions) or portion of individual food. Sometimes called serving size.



Nutrient values developed when analytical values are unavailable. Nutrient values from another form of the same food, or another species of the same genus are examples of imputed values.



International Network of Food Data Systems



Individual food or food product

Key Foods


Identification of foods most highly consumed and also best sources of nutrients deemed important to national dietary health. Key Foods are identified as those foods contributing up to 75% of any one nutrient. Key Foods are used by NDL to set priorities for our nutrient analysis contracts.



Data printed on a food label, as supplied by its manufacturer. The values are primarily company analytical or imputed; however, the values have been rounded and/or adjusted to provide uniform serving size weights.



National Agricultural Library, USDA located in Beltsville, Maryland



National Cancer Insitute, NIH



National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, NIH



USDA National Nutrient Databank



Identification number for food item in USDA Nutrient Database



National Institutes of Health



National Institute of Standards and Technology, U. S. Department of Commerce



National Labeling and Education Act of 1990. Refers to food labeling regulations promulgated by the FDA.



National Technical Information Service, U. S. Department of Commerce



Primary Data Set for USDA Nationwide Food Surveys.  No longer a separate database, but part of SR.



The known weight or measure of ingredients in a multi-ingredient food item. Amounts of ingredients may be expressed in household volume measure units such as cups and tablespoons or may be expressed as gram weights. The term recipe is generally applied to a food item prepared from component ingredients in a household or institutional setting. The term may also apply to a commercial multi-ingredient food item for which the amounts of ingredients are set, rather than estimated (e.g. by Standards of Identity).



Portion of food removed before consumption (meat bones, fruit pits, etc.).



Reference Material used for evaluating the reliability of analytical methods

Source code


One-character numeric code to document source of nutrient data.



Standard Reference Material from NIST used for evaluating the reliability of analytical methods

Standard Reference (SR)


USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference



INFOODS Tag Names identify individual nutrients for international interchange of nutrient data.



Universal Product Code is a unique product identification number found on most product labels, represented by bar and number codes.



U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA Commodity


Foods donated, or available for donation, by the Department under authorizing legislation, for use in any State in child nutrition programs, nonprofit summer camps for children, charitable institutions, nutrition programs for the elderly, the Commodity Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations and the assistance of needy people.



U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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