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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

How to submit data to USDA Nutrient Databases
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Submitting Data for the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

The USDA's National Nutrient Databank System (NDBS) integrates all functions associated with the development and dissemination of food composition databases. Full documentation behind nutrient data, including analytical methods, sample handling, and label information can be entered and stored in the NDBS. A variety of statistical measures have been incorporated to validate data and to aggregate data from a variety of sources. The NDBS was developed, and is maintained, by the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL). The primary product of the NDBS is the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR), a scientific, non-regulatory database of foods consumed in the U.S. Yearly updates are made to this database to ensure that product information is current and data are of the highest possible quality. A subset of SR is used to support the dietary intake component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: What We Eat in America. Data from the USDA National Nutrient Database are used for many research, policy, education, treatment, and nutrition monitoring programs. SR includes food composition data for nearly 9,000 foods -- of these, over 1,300 are brand name items. 

We at NDL encourage the submission of food composition data by all facets of the food industry, academia, and other government agencies. Your help in maintaining the accuracy and currency of the National Nutrient Database is appreciated.

No fees are charged for submitting data or using this database. SR is released annually on our Web site at The NDL Web site has averaged over 100,000 unique user visits per month following release of an enhanced online search program in 2012. Using the search program, schools, the media and consumers may readily view your data and companies are encouraged to review their food items regularly. Brand name data obtained from sources other than the manufacturer -- including USDA contracts, other federal agencies, and publications -- may be included in SR. Mention of trade names, commercial products, or companies in our NDBS products, including SR, is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the USDA over others not mentioned.

About Submitting Data

  • How will the data be used?

Your data will be incorporated into the NDBS used to produce SR and to support nationwide food consumption surveys. Data on many food components are needed to support food consumption surveys and the many research, policy, education, treatment, and nutrition monitoring programs.  Your data may be combined with data from other sources, for example analytical data obtained from NDL's National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program, to compile generic food items with the complete nutrient profiles needed for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: What We Eat in America.

  • What Products are needed?

Data on many food items, generic and brand name, are needed for the SR and for the database supporting the integrated nationwide food survey, What We Eat in America component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NDL continues to expand the release of brand name data. Expansion of brand name data is dependent on data currency and data availability.

  • What Nutrients are Needed?

NDL accepts calculated or analytical, unrounded and unadjusted nutrient data generated in response to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). Products must be adequately described and nutrient data should be given for the edible portion of the food. We appreciate submission of data for as many nutrients as possible. We must have data for all proximates, carbohydrate, protein, fat, moisture and ash. If one proximate is missing, NDL will calculate the remaining one by difference. While you may not have data for all of the many components released in SR, NDL welcomes data on all nutrients and components that you may have. You may view a list of the 25 food groups in SR and a full list of the 150 food components represented in SR27. A listing of the nutrients in SR is given in the Table 1 of the SR database documentation

We request unrounded, unadjusted, analytical or calculated data. If data are supplied on a serving size basis, NDL must convert the data to the 100 gram basis. For analytical data, we appreciate individual values for each sample or the mean values, along with the number of samples and the standard deviation.

  • What information is Desired?

Much of the information we need is information you already have on hand. Please see our check list

2 Ways to submit data

  • Electronic copy - NDL encourages data in spreadsheet and other file formats.
  • Hard copy - NDL welcomes copies of analytical laboratory and company database reports.

Please Contact the Nutrient Data Laboratory before submitting data. Ask that your inquiry be forwarded to the appropriate food specialist.

Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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