Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Nutrient Data Laboratory

2011 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 over 7,500 foods and up to 140 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 2011, NDL released the annual update of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR24) ( and its related subset of 3,000 foods and 65 components for the NHANES: What We Eat in America. Data for about 80 new foods were added to the database. The foods included frequently consumed products from supermarkets and quick 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 about 110 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. NDL collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, and the FDA to monitor sodium in 40 processed and prepared foods. Full nutrient profiles for those foods were generated. Sodium values for more than 125 “Sentinel” foods will be monitored in the years ahead as the food industry reduces sodium levels in many products. NDL scientists continue to collaborate with both the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Board to update beef and pork data for many single ingredient fresh cuts. As a result of this collaboration NDL completed and disseminated data for 40 fresh pork loin cuts and new beef products. With regard to the mandatory labeling of single-ingredient products and ground or chopped meat and poultry products which goes into effect in January, 2012, discussions were held with FSIS regarding updates on selected meat cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey, with AMS, and with the National Turkey Federation (NTF) regarding implementation of a new turkey study to update the existing turkey data in the Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. USDA’s food composition data is the primary support for FSIS efforts and those of the retail meat industry to initiate single ingredient meat labeling 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

Review Publications
Patterson, K.K., Exler, J., Byrdwell, W.C., Phillips, K.M., Horst, R., Lemar, L.E., Holden, J.M. 2010. Vitamin D content and variability in fluid milk from a USDA nationwide sampling to update values in the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Journal of Dairy Science. 93(11):5082-5090.

Trainer, D., Pehrsson, P.R., Haytowitz, D.B., Holden, J.M., Phillips, K.M., Rasor, A.S., Conley, N.A. 2010. Development of sample handling procedures for foods under USDA's National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 23(8):843-851.

Phillips, K.M., Ruggio, D.M., Haytowitz, D.B. 2011. Folate composition of ten types of mushrooms determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Food Chemistry. 129:63-636.

Phillips, K.M., Ruggio, D.M., Horst, R.L., Minor, B., Simon, R., Feeney, M., Byrdwell, W.C., Haytowitz, D.B. 2011. Vitamin D and sterol composition of ten types of mushrooms from retail suppliers in the United States. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 59(14):7841-7853.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page