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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Nutrient Data Laboratory » Research » Research Project #416473


Location: Nutrient Data Laboratory

2010 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.

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.

3. Progress Report
This project supports the food composition research to develop accurate, unbiased, and representative food composition data for about 7,500 foods and up to 146 nutrients and other components (e.g., flavonoids) which may be bioactive. 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 2010, NDL released the annual update of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR23) ( and its related subset of 2,800 foods, each containing 65 components for the NHANES: What We Eat in America. Those data were generated by NDL through the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program (NFNAP) or submitted by the food industry. NDL sampled and analyzed about 100 foods through qualified NFNAP contractors. Additional foods were analyzed through the USDA collaboration with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Board to update beef and pork data for many fresh cuts. In cooperation with the Egg Nutrition Center, cholesterol and other nutrient values for whole eggs were updated. Over 200 new foods were added to the database for SR23. Among these are: ground turkey (raw and cooked two ways) at three fat levels; a variety of new breakfast cereals; several new oils that are being used in commercial products; sorghum and millet flour; frozen brand-name pizzas; and 12 new beef chuck cuts, raw and cooked (braised, roasted, or grilled depending on the cut) at three grades. Foods with updated nutrient values include: 19 species of fish; raw eggs; selected non-enhanced fresh pork loin cuts; and fast-food French fries to reflect new fatty acid profiles. A section “Notes on Foods” has been added in the documentation, and “Notes for Beef and Pork” has been added as well. The notes give additional information about the foods such as the definitions of lean and fat and a brief description of research projects conducted to generate nutrient data.

4. Accomplishments
1. Release of the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR23). 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 2010, NDL developed and released the annual update of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR23) ( and its related subset for the NHANES: What We Eat in America. New analytical data for about 100 foods were generated from the chemical analysis of sample units obtained in a nationwide sampling program.

2. NDL scientists developed and released the second edition of the ORAC (Oxygen-Radical Absorbance Capacity) Database. The updated ORAC Database contains values for 326 food items for use in epidemiological studies to investigate the relationship between a measure of antioxidant intake and health status, and to consumers who want to know more about the foods they eat.

5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
American Indians and Alaska Natives are at high risk for several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. NDL continues to work on the development of the American Indian/Alaska Native Foods Database as a part of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR). As part of the American Indian/Alaska Native Database, data for five Hopi foods were added to SR23. This database now includes about 200 subsistence (harvested, hunted, fished) foods and traditional mixed dishes. Tribes to date include Shoshone Bannock, Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Plains Indians, and Alaska Native. The data were generated with support from NIH and the Indian Health Service and through collaborations with tribes, other USDA researchers, local governments, regional health departments, and universities. Data will be shared with the tribes that provided the samples. Latino citizens and immigrants are also at high risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. NDL continued to expand the nutrient database with Latino foods which are important in the diets of this rapidly growing population segment. NDL efforts support NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-National Cancer Institute (NCI) Hispanic Communities Health Study and the WWEIA, NHANES. With the support of NCI, NDL sampled and analyzed numerous foods, representing four regional study centers (and respective cultural groups) in New York (Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico), Miami (Cuba), Chicago (Mexico, Puerto Rico), San Diego (Mexico), and Minneapolis (Mexico). As part of an ongoing effort to expand the number of Latino food items in the Database, profiles for a number of Latino cheeses, fruits, crackers, sugar wafers, and restaurant items such as pupusas, arepas, bunuelos, and tamales have been added to SR23. The new values will be used to assess the relationship of nutrient intake of Latino groups to health status.