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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Nutrient Data Laboratory » Research » Research Project #426560

Research Project: USDA National Nutrient Databank for Food Composition

Location: Nutrient Data Laboratory

2015 Annual Report

The mission of the Nutrient Data Laboratory is "To develop authoritative food composition databases and state of the art methods to acquire, evaluate, compile, and disseminate composition data on foods and dietary supplements available in the United States." The following three objectives and nine sub-objectives provide the infrastructure for completing planned research over the next five years and the guiding principles for accomplishing the research with a clear, scientific focus. Objective 1. Develop and expand the USDA-ARS food composition databases to represent the dynamics of the U.S. food supply, including increased use of commercially packaged foods, restaurant foods, school foods, and ethnic foods. Sub-Objective 1.A. Update the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR) to represent the dynamics of the current U.S. food supply, including increased availability and variety of commercially packaged, restaurant, school, and ethnic foods. Sub-Objective 1.B. Expand and update existing food yield and nutrient retention factor tables to reflect current food preparation methods and food products. Sub-Objective 1.C. Provide nutrient composition data for use in the national survey, What We Eat In America (WWEIA), NHANES. Sub-Objective 1.D. Monitor sodium and related nutrients in commercially processed and restaurant foods in the U.S. food supply. Objective 2. Develop authoritative food composition databases for non-nutritive components that may promote health; examples include isothiocyanates and other sulfur-containing compounds. Expand existing databases, including flavonoids, to include more foods, variability estimates, and other information (cultivar, weather, growing conditions, etc.), which impact the nutrient values. Sub-Objective 2.A. Expand and update accurate representative values for a number of bioactive compounds in raw, processed, and prepared foods in different Special Interest Databases (SID). Sub-Objective 2.B. Develop a new Special Interest Database (SID) on the content of sulfur-containing bioactive compounds in selected foods, with special emphasis on variability and factors, e.g., cultivar, location, and growing conditions, which potentially could influence variability. Sub-Objective 2.C. Determine the effect of various preparation methods on the content of various bioactive compounds in selected foods. Objective 3. Identify, evaluate, and develop new methods for the acquisition, evaluation, compilation, and dissemination of food composition data from diverse sources through modernization of existing and development of new, robust information technology. Sub-Objective 3.A. Provide easy-to-use, web-based mechanisms for data submission. Sub-Objective 3.B. Enhance dissemination routines in the National Nutrient Databank System (NDBS) via automated methods to expand the types of data formats available on NDL’s web site.

Multiple methods for obtaining data will be used (e.g., nationwide product sampling and analysis, collaborations [food manufacturers, agricultural scientists], and publicly available information). The National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program (NFNAP) generates high-quality, analytical data for U.S. foods and includes a rigorous scientific process to develop nationally representative estimates of means and variability, under USDA analytical oversight. The 5 aims are: a) identify/prioritize foods/nutrients for analysis; b) devise/implement nationally based sampling plan(s); c) analyze food samples; and d) review, compile, and disseminate data. Beef data will be evaluated by nutrient and cut and compared across primals (chuck, brisket, etc.) and cooking methods. New meat data processed through the National Data Bank System (NDBS) will support calculations of cooking yield and retention factors (means, variances, and associated 90% or 95% confidence intervals). NDL will identify SR foods to be added or updated; this list will be provided to FSRG to prioritize foods needed in WWEIA (e.g., commercially processed and restaurant foods to replace home recipes), ensuring WWEIA adequately represents respondent reports. For important new foods, NFNAP sampling may include analytical data available for the next survey-SR dataset; standardized NDBS imputation procedures will be used to calculate missing values. NDL analyzed each Sentinel Food (SF; 2010-2013) for all nutrients; they will be reanalyzed every 4-8 years depending on budget and priority using the Principal Axis Factoring (Factor Analysis): consumption frequency in WWEIA, NHANES, 2009-10; potential for reduction (New York City’s National Salt Reduction Initiative targets); and history of change in the market. NDL will obtain and disseminate data for sulfur-containing bioactive compounds, detailing other factors (cultivars, location, weather, growing conditions) which impact concentration and focusing on genus Brassica, Allium; samples will be obtained through NFNAP and analyzed by ARS-Food Composition and Methods Development Laboratory (FCMDL) and sources and magnitudes of variability studied. Food selected for analysis for non-nutritive components will be based on flavonoid content, lack of analytical data, and potential for developing retention factors for related foods. The proanthcyanidin database will be expanded using formulations (linear regression techniques) developed for SR, to provide values to FSRG for foods reported in WWEIA-NHANES. Standardized, user-friendly databases will be released; collaboration with ILSI North America/Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership (ATIP) Foundation and the food industry will be explored to expand the number of brand name foods. ATIP will develop/manage a new portal to facilitate submission of food manufacturers’ brand name nutrient data, strengthening NDL database for policy makers, researchers and the public. In parallel, NDL will work with other partners to identify infrastructure improvements to the NDBS.

Progress Report
Objective 1A, Expanding food composition databases (SR): In Release SR28 of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, over 300 new food items were added. The new items mainly included commercially packaged and restaurant foods, including school foods. Approximately 72 food items were analyzed through NFNAP—most in response to requests from FSRG and as part of the sodium monitoring project (see below). Most food items were sampled nationally, but for a few, less commonly consumed foods, local samples were procured. Data for additional food items were obtained through collaborations with various trade associations and by long-standing relationships with a number of food companies. About 180 foods no longer on the market were deleted from the database, and 10,000 nutrient values were updated as part of this process. Data on the trans fatty acid content of foods were added to SR28 for basic commodities. These data will be used to calculate trans fatty acid values for multi-component foods in subsequent releases of SR with the goal of making trans fat data available for all foods in the FNDDS 2015-16. Objective 1B, Expanding cooking yield and retention tables: NDL released an updated cooking yields table on-line for >174 meat and poultry items as USDA Cooking Yields for Meat and Poultry Release 2. A manuscript was published focusing on effect of cooking on yields and proximate nutrients among beef cuts from different primals. Objective 1C, Expanding nutrient composition data for Survey: NDL continued its long-standing commitment to provide FSRG with updated nutrient values for a subset of SR foods (survey-SR) containing the complete matrix of 65 components monitored as part of national nutrition monitoring on a biennial basis. The survey-SR subset of over 3,000 foods is used with the NDL nutrient retention factors file as the foundation for FSRG’s Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS), the database used for processing intakes of survey respondents in WWEIA, NHANES. Among the 65 nutrients provided to FSRG are those identified by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Report as over-consumed nutrients or components (i.e., sodium, saturated fat), shortfall nutrients (i.e., vitamin D, calcium), and nutrients of concern for selected population groups (i.e., folate, iron, vitamin B12). New and updated data were provided for FSRG to determine nutrient intakes of survey respondents in WWEIA, NHANES 2013-2014. The updated data included: 1) Nutrient profiles expanded for 21 new foods which first appeared in SR 27; 2) ~15,000 changes for ~500 existing foods updated for SR 27 and SR 28; 3) ~ 250 new foods added to SR 28, which were requested by FSRG as foods reported by survey respondents. For about 60 new foods, NFNAP sampling was planned and executed in order to have analytical data available for the survey-SR dataset. Comprehensive quality control checks were conducted on all new and updated data. The subsequent data files provided to FSRG contained the food descriptions and nutrient data for new foods and for changes in existing survey-SR foods. Objective 1D, Sodium monitoring: As part of the inter-agency (USDA-CDC) monitoring plan, 125 highly-popular, sodium contributing, commercially processed and restaurant food items (Sentinel Foods) continued to be tracked as indicators to assess the changes in the sodium content of the food supply. NDL has been monitoring nutrient profiles of these Sentinel Foods through nationwide sampling and laboratory analysis. In addition, nutrient profiles for over 1,100 other commercially processed and restaurant foods (Priority-2 Foods) were monitored using information from manufacturers and market share data. In addition to sodium, related nutrients (total sugar, potassium, total and saturated fat, and total dietary fiber) that may change as food manufacturers reformulate were monitored. As part of the continuous monitoring, we resampled nine Sentinel Foods nationwide after consultation with FSRG and CDC. Over 40 additional sodium-contributing foods were sampled nationwide and analyzed. Nutrient data for many of these items had previously been based on formulations/recipes or old analytical data, and many of these foods were analyzed because of being identified as having big changes in sodium content. Objective 2A, Special Interest Databases (SID) for bioactive compounds: The “USDA Database for the Proanthocyanidin Content of Selected Foods, Release 2” was completed, reviewed by three external reviewers, and released, with proanthocyanidin values for 283 foods. Seventy-eight new food items were added in the updated database. In the NDL-led pilot study on inter-laboratory methods for measuring vitamin D and 25(OH)D in animal-based foods and dietary supplements, 5 international and U.S. laboratories participated and provided methods information and data for six materials in two separate trials. NDL evaluated the data and will prepare a manuscript describing the results with coauthors from USDA and NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Objective 2B, Special Interest Database (SID) for sulfur containing compounds: Data for glucosinolates from 130 research articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals were evaluated for data quality and entered into standard SID format. Objective 2C, Effect of processing/preparation on bioactive content: Samples of broccoli, collard greens, kale and red cabbage were purchased from 3 different supermarket chains. Food Composition and Methods Development Laboratory (FCMDL) prepared (using protocols provided by NDL) and analyzed these vegetables in raw and cooked forms (boiled, steamed, microwaved) for selected flavonoids and GLS/ITCs to determine retention factors of these compounds after preparation. Preliminary results for broccoli and red cabbage suggested higher apparent retention of kaempferol in broccoli by microwave cooking than steaming or boiling, while cyanins in red cabbage were retained better by steaming than boiling. Objective 3A, Information technology modernization for web-based data submission: Data from the foods industry were received through the Public-Private Partnership utilizing the industry-standard GS1 format. These data were reformatted for demonstration to five industry partners; 244 products were presented as searchable products using a staging server separate from that used for the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Once industry representatives and partners in ILSI NA develop strategies to resolve remaining data accuracy issues and deliver a corrected database to USDA, it can be released to the public. Data exchange and ongoing discussions within the public private partnership (USDA, Agricultural Technology Information Partnership [ATIP Foundation]), and ILSI NA have provided information enabling NDL to better design modifications to the NDBS in order to handle increased data submissions through the ATIP portal and other sources. Work began at UMD on developing programs for the reformatting of data received from external sources, including the ATIP portal, for import into the NDBS and/or the search program hosted at NAL. Objective 3B, Enhanced NDBS data dissemination systems: NDL staff members implemented enhancements to the NDBS, including software programs to reformat data from external sources (as part of the data portal), data processing bypasses within the system, and an automated linear programming tool or Formulations Program (FP) for generating complete nutrient profiles for multi-ingredient, commercially processed foods. This tool uses nutrient and ingredient information from food labels to develop nutrient values where data are not available. The McWest Company was awarded a contract for the programming of a new FP using industry standard software packages and project management practices. The first versions of the new FP were delivered and tested by NDL staff. Each week new updates were delivered, providing new features and addressing issues raised during the previous tests. Ultimately, this work will produce a system with a high degree of automation and improved user interface, dramatically reducing the need for hands-on processes by eliminating the need for manual data entry by obtaining ingredient information and label data from external sources, i.e. the ATIP portal. Thesaurus, statistical and data analysis techniques will also be employed to reduce the need for hands-on entry and operation of the FP. This will result in the replacement of outdated software developed as part of the NDBS in 1999. These efforts need to be extended to other components of the NDBS as well.

1. Release of four major databases for human nutrition assessment. ARS scientists in the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland, a) released new or updated databases including a) USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR28); b) the USDA Database for the Proanthocyanidin Content of Selected Foods; c) Monitoring sodium levels in commercially processed and restaurant foods dataset; and d) dataset of USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference for What We Eat in American, NHANES 2013-2014. Completion of pilot study on inter-laboratory methods for measuring vitamin D and 25(OH)D in animal-based foods and dietary supplements, including results from 5 international and United States laboratories. These will be invaluable references for human nutrition assessment worldwide.

Review Publications
Ahuja, J.K., Pehrsson, P.R., Haytowitz, D.B., Wasswa-Kintu, S., Nickle, M.S., Showell, B.A., Thomas, R.G., Roseland, J.M., Williams, J.R., Khan, M., Nguyen, Q., Hoy, K., Martin, C.L., Rhodes, D.G., Moshfegh, A.J., Gillespie, C., Gunn, J., Merritt, R., Cogswell, M. 2015. Monitoring sodium in commercially processed foods from stores and restaurants. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 101:622-631.
Roseland, J.M., Nguyen, Q.V., Williams, J.R., Douglass, L.W., Patterson, K.Y., Howe, J.C., Brooks, C.J., Thompson, L.D., Woerner, D.R., Engle, T.E., Savel, J.W., Harris, K.B., Cifelli, A., Mcneill, S. 2015. Protein, fat, moisture, and cooking yields from a nationwide study of retail beef cuts.. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 43:131–139.
Gillespie, C., Malouf, J., Yuan, K., Cogswell, M.E., Gunn, J., Levings, J., Moshfegh, A.J., Ahuja, J.K., Merritt, R. 2014. Sodium content in US packaged foods 2009. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 101: 344-353.
Bhagwat, S.A., Haytowitz, D.B., Wasswa-Kintu, S., Pehrsson, P.R. 2015. Development of USDA's expanded flavonoid database: A Tool for Epidemiological Research. British Journal of Nutrition. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114515001580.
Roseland, J.M., Nguyen, Q., Williams, J.R., Patterson, K.Y., Woerner, D.R., Douglass, L.W. 2014. USDA Nutrient Data Set for Retail Veal Cuts. World Wide Web. Available: