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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Nutrient Data Laboratory

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Determine and monitor the nutritional composition of foods commonly consumed by Americans. Compile, maintain, and disseminate electronic food composition databases utilizing standardized approaches according to specified timelines. Objective 2: Evaluate and update existing food composition data for adequacy and completeness for nutrients of high public health concern and/or identified as potential nutritional adequacy concerns in the “What We Eat in America/NHANES” dietary survey, such as vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins K and D focusing on foods commonly consumed. Objective 3: Evaluate and update methods for food composition data acquisition, evaluation, compilation and dissemination of food composition data utilizing new, robust computer systems. Sub-Objective 3A: Expand methods for statistical sampling, sample handling, quality control, and data quality evaluation to ensure representative and accurate food composition estimates. Sub-objective 3B: Review, document and evaluate the existing method for estimating the nutrient content of processed, multi-ingredient foods. Sub-Objective 3C: Update existing food cooking yields and nutrient retention factors to reflect current food products, ingredients in formulations, and preparation procedures. Sub-objective 3D: Develop and modernize automated systems to electronically receive, evaluate, and compile food composition data from external sources and explore new methods for data dissemination. Objective 4: Investigate the variability of food composition data attributable to inherent food differences as well as analytical methodology. Temporary Objectives: Objective 1: Coordinate with the Food Surveys Research Group and the Food Composition and Methods Development Laboratory to have an outside evaluation of the IT capabilities of the Nutrient Data Laboratory with respect to the ability to acquire and maintain multiple databases for bioactive food components from multiple sources including the food industry, assimilate data that characterizes variability of the food supply, allow for manipulation of large data sets and allow linkage with other similar databases/programs. Objective 2: Implement changes to update and modernize the IT infrastructure underlying the ARS databases maintained by the Nutrient Data Laboratory. Such changes include (but are not limited to) the ability to download data via the web from outside sources such as from industry and scientific investigators, to assimilate large amounts of information regarding variability of data (e.g., variety, year, post harvest handling, farming method, climate, etc), to query from multiple views (e.g., all foods of one variety in one year, all analyses by a single method), to conduct in-line statistical analyses, and to link with other similar programs (e.g., the Phenol Explorer, the EPA pesticide exposure database).

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Objective 1: NDL will develop estimates of the nutrient content of foods and disseminate up-to-date food composition databases, including the Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR). Estimates will be based on the analysis of representative samples as well as on the calculation of related values. The updating of the composition of existing foods (e.g., pork cuts) and the addition of new foods (e.g., energy bars) will be determined according to the strategies defined under the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program (NFNAP). NDL will use a multi-factorial strategy for setting priorities for adding each new nutrient or class of nutrient to SR and potentially, to the WWEIA, NHANES- FNDDS survey subset of SR. Analyses will be performed at qualified commercial laboratories using AOAC (AOAC International, 2008) or equivalent methods. Data will be statistically analyzed to estimate nutrient means and to evaluate the variability of data points for sample units obtained. Other sources of nutrient data will include food industry and trade associations, other government agencies such as the FDA, and scientific literature. Final data will be approved and released in the SR. Objective 2: NDL will develop and maintain food composition databases with nationally representative values for nutrients of public health concern and/or identified potential nutritional adequacy concerns to be used as the foundation for the Food Surveys Research Group’s (FSRG) Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Surveys (FNDDS). NDL will monitor the U.S. food supply to identify those foods that should be added to SR or updated. Nutrient data for these foods will be obtained through NFNAP which focuses on foods commonly consumed (see Objective 1). Identification of foods will require close collaboration between NDL and FSRG. Objective 3: Methods to obtain and estimate representative and accurate food composition estimates will be reviewed and updated as required by the types of foods to be sampled. Protocols will be developed for correct handling of food samples to assure the stability of the nutrients of interest. NDL will plan and develop methods for enhancing electronic data transfer to expedite the acquisition of data from external sources. Objective 4: The variance estimates for select nutrients will be determined as part of the acquisition, preparation, and analysis of NFNAP samples. Temporary Approaches: Temporary Approach 1: NDL will identify a group of external advisors in concert with FCMDL and FSRG who can assist with the evaluation of current technology capabilities and future needs. Bring in external reviewers to provide written report about IT needs. Develop update plan to determine key changes needed to help optimize the sharing of food composition information. Approach 2: Acquire new hardware and software to modernize IT infrastructure to ensure high quality information is available to stakeholders (other Federal Groups,Research Community)and to the general public as appropriate/needed.

3. Progress Report:
This project supports USDA's food composition research program to develop accurate, unbiased, and representative food composition data for about 8,500 foods and nearly 200 nutrients and other components (e.g., flavonoids) which may bioactive properties. These data are used as the foundation of most other food composition databases and related applications in the U.S. and worldwide to monitor food and nutrient intake, to conduct human nutrition research, to label foods, and to develop nutrition policy. During 2013, the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) released the annual update of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR26) ( The foods included frequently consumed products from supermarkets, quick service and casual dining, full service restaurants. The data were generated by NDL through the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program (NFNAP) or submitted by the food industry. NDL sampled and analyzed 74 unique foods through qualified contractors and four USDA specific cooperative agreements (SCAs). Sample units were purchased in 12 cities nationwide to provide a group of products representative of the specific food type. An NDL scientist worked with statisticians to update the NFNAP sampling plan for foods based on the 2010 U.S. Census. NDL continued collaborations with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and USDA agencies, including the Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG), to monitor sodium in the food supply. Of the about 3,200 food items from SR26 that will be supplied to FSRG to develop the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) 6.0, approximately 1,300 - primarily commercially packaged and restaurant foods - are impacted by manufacturers' efforts to reduce the sodium content and are being monitored for changes in label value by one of several methods (e.g., selected analysis, label checks, industry submissions). One hundred and twenty-five of these foods are designated as “Sentinel” foods have been analyzed under the auspices of NFNAP. In subsequent years, these foods will be monitored for changes. NDL scientists continued to collaborate with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to update beef data for many single ingredient fresh cuts. As a result of this collaboration, NDL has finalized nutrient data for ten beef round and loin cuts in the third study phase of the overall project. USDA’s food composition data are supporting the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) efforts and those of the retail meat industry in the single ingredient meat labeling program begun in 2012. These efforts result in a repository of current and accurate values for nutrients in foods which are consumed by a large proportion of the population.

4. Accomplishments
1. Release of the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR26). Nutrient data for foods and other dietary components are critical to the assessment of dietary intake and support the investigation of hypotheses concerning the relationship of dietary intake to health status. During 2013, the Nutrient Data Laboratory developed and released the annual update of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR26) and its related subset for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): What We Eat in America. Nutrient profiles for nearly 400 foods were added to SR26 ( Of these, 125 were added or updated using NFNAP data; the remainder was obtained from food industry sources. Data on tocotrienols, which were obtained as part of the analyses for vitamin E, for over 1,200 food items were released after review by an outside expert.

2. Development of the USDA Expanded Flavonoid Database for the Assessment of Dietary Intakes. In order to estimate flavonoid intakes by What We Eat in America (WWEIA), 2007-08 participants. This is a collaborative effort between the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) and the Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG). USDA’s databases on the flavonoid content of selected foods were expanded to include full profiles for six subclasses (flavanols, flavan3-ols, flavones, flavanones, anthocyanidins, isoflavones) for around 2,900 food items included in Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) 4.1 and used in National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-08. Analytical values were taken from Release 3.1 of the flavonoid database and Release 2.0 of the isoflavones database. Release 3.0 of the flavonoid database was updated during FY2013 to revise a few values and add some additional food items to create Release 3.1, which was released in June 2013. Flavonoid values for unavailable foods and/or compounds needed for the expanded database were calculated from the analytical values using various imputation techniques or were assigned assumed “0” values when appropriate. Other values needed for the expanded database were calculated from the analytical values or assigned an assumed “0”. The first draft of the expanded flavonoid database was delivered to FSRG in early July 2012 and the final version in January 2013.

3. USDA Table of Cooking Yields for Meat and Poultry. Cooking yield and retention data for over 175 retail cuts of meat and poultry were used to develop and release the first electronic version of the USDA Table of Cooking Yields for Meats and Poultry and supporting documentation on the NDL website. (Data provided are measures of changes in meat and poultry weights resulting from moisture and fat losses during cooking. The table includes percentages for cooking yield, moisture change, and fat change for specific cuts of meat and poultry prepared in USDA research studies according to specific cooking protocols.

Review Publications
Phillips, K.M., Ruggio, D.M., Exler, J., Patterson, K.K. 2013. Sterol composition shellfish species commonly consumed in the United States. Food and Nutrition Research. DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.18931.

Phillips, K.M., Exler, J., Patterson, K.K., Holden, J.M. 2013. Cholesterol and vitamin D content of eggs in the U.S. retail market. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 29(2013):110-116.

Ahuja, J.K., Moshfegh, A.J., Holden, J., Harris, E.W. 2013. USDA food and nutrient databases provide the infrastructure for food and nutrition research, policy and practice. Journal of Nutrition. 143:241S-249S.

Showell, B.A., Williams, J.R., Duvall, M., Howe, J.C., Patterson, K.K., Roseland, J.M., Holden, J.M. 2012. The USDA Table of Cooking Yields for Meat and Poultry.

Williams, J.R., Howe, J.C., Patterson, K.K., Holden, J.M., Roseland, J.M., Thompson, L., Heilman, J., Snyder, C., Lofgren, P. 2013. Changes in nutrient levels for three fresh pork loin cuts between 1992-2010. Procedia Food Science. 2:93-98.

Holden, J.M., Pehrsson, P.R., Nickle, M.S., Haytowitz, D.B., Exler, J., Showell, B.A., Williams, J.R., Thomas, R.G., Ahuja, J.K., Lemar, L.E., Gebhardt, S. 2013. USDA monitors levels of added sodium in processed and prepared foods. Procedia Food Science. 2:6-67.

Haytowitz, D.B., Bhagwat, S.A., Holden, J.M. 2013. Sources of variability in the flavonoid content of foods. National Nutrient Databank Conference. Procedia Food Science, 2:46-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.profoo.2013.04.008.

Pehrsson, P.R., Perry, C., Daniel, M. 2013. ARS, USDA updates food sampling strategies to keep pace with demographic shifts. Procedia Food Science. 2:52-59.

Thomas, R.G., Pehrsson, P.R., Ahuja, J.K., Smieja, E., Miller, K.B. 2013. Recent trends in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals in the U.S.. Procedia Food Science. 2:20-26.

Nickle, M.S., Pehrsson, P.R. 2013. USDA updates nutrient values for fast food pizza. Procedia Food Science. 2:87-92.

Ahuja, J.K., Juan, W., Egan, S., Buzby, J., Trumbo, P., Moshfegh, A.J., Holden, J. 2013. Federal monitoring activities related to food: How do they compare?. Procedia Food Science. 2:165-171.

Bhagwat, S.A., Haytowitz, D.B., Wasswa-Kintu, S., Holden, J. 2013. USDA develops a database for flavonoids to assess dietary intakes. Procedia Food Science. 2:81-86.

Bhagwat, S.A., Haytowitz, D.B., Holden, J.M. 2013. USDA database for the flavonoid content of selected foods, Release 3.1. Home Page.

Charrondiere, U.R., Stadlmayr, B., Haytowitz, D.B., Oseredczuk, M., Ireland, J., Wolmarans, P., Rittenschober, D., Selley, B., Puwastien, P., Reykdal, O., Blanco, A., Aguinaldo, A., Ene-Obong, H., Pehrsson, P.R., Kouebou, C.P., Longvah, T., Guillaume, K.S., Champagne, C., Nowak, V., Wijesena-Bettoni, R. 2012. FAO/INFOODS Guidelines for Checking Food Composition Data Prior to the Publication of a User Table/Database, Version 1.0. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Technical Workshop Report.

Martin, J.N., Brooks, J.C., Thompson, L.J., Savell, J.W., Harris, K.B., May, L.L., Haneklaus, A.N., Schutz, J.L., Belk, K.E., Engle, T.E., Woerener, D.R., Legako, J.F., Luna, A.M., Douglass, L.W., Douglass, S.E., Howe, J., Duvall, M., Patterson, K.Y., Leheska, J.L. 2013. Nutrient database improvement project: Separable components and proximate composition of raw and cooked retail cuts from the beef rib and plate. Journal of Meat Science. 95:486-494.

Maalouf, J., Cogswell, M.E., Gunn, J., Curtis, C.J., Rhodes, D.G., Hoy, M.K., Pehrsson, P.R., Nickle, M.S., Merritt, R. 2013. Monitoring the sodium content of restaurant foods: Public health challenges and opportunities. American Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301442.

Haytowitz, D.B., Showell, B.A., Pehrsson, P.R., Patterson, K.K., Thomas, R.G., Williams, J.R., Nickle, M.S., Roseland, J.M., Exler, J., Somanchi, M., Khan, M., Holden, J., 2012. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Last Modified: 2/23/2016
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