Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Methods and Application of Food Composition Laboratory » Research » Research Project #435343

Research Project: Development of Databases on Composition of U.S. Foods

Location: Methods and Application of Food Composition Laboratory

Project Number: 8040-52000-068-27-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2018
End Date: Aug 31, 2023

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. (NP107; C2, PS 2A; C3, PS 3A) Sub-Objective 1.A. Update the USDA food composition databases to represent the dynamics of the current U.S. food supply, including increased availability and variety of basic commodities and ingredients (such as soy flour, concentrates and isolates, cereal grains and flours, fruits and vegetables), restaurant/school/ and ethnic foods. 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. (NP107; C2, PS 2A; C3, PS 3A) Sub-Objective 2.A. Expand and update accurate representative values for a number of bioactive compounds in raw, processed, and prepared foods. Sub-Objective 2.B. Develop new data 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 and select nutrients (e.g., dietary fiber, vitamins) in selected fruits and vegetables.

Expanded food composition data and research focused in ongoing ARS programs will be established through small and large studies on the changing composition of the U.S. food supply. In addition, emerging nutrients of public health importance will be studied and included in USDA food composition databases that are part of the USDA FoodData Central. These include monitoring and analysis of key contributors of nutrients, basic commodities and ingredients (such as soy flour, concentrates and isolates, cereal grains and flours, fruits and vegetables), ethnic foods, and contributors of emerging bioactive compounds which have shown potential in disease prevention. Using market share data and the NDL analytical program, foods will be sampled across the country (retail and industrial ingredients) and shipped to The Food Analysis Laboratory Control Center in the Biochemistry Department at Virginia Tech (FALCC-VT), where they are examined and logged in to the database. Data captured includes when and where the samples were purchased, ingredients, expiration dates, and other information. At FALCC-VT, samples are prepared, if necessary, composited/homogenized, and dispensed into subsamples for analysis and archives/reserves, according to work plans developed at NDL. FALCC-VT then ships samples to labs qualified by USDA for analysis, either commercial labs under contract or university labs where specialized expertise in the analysis of specific components in foods. FALCC-VT also performs analyses of cholesterol, vitamin C, phytosterols, fatty acids (including trans fatty acids and trans fatty acid isomers), sodium, total lipid, and moisture, and will develop methodology for additional components as necessary, including dietary fiber. Along with the analytical samples, FALCC-VT also develops quality control plans and materials —either procuring certified reference materials (CRM) developed by agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology or developing, preparing, and characterizing control composites in-house—that are included in designated batches of samples for each food matrix/nutrient to be analyzed. The resulting data are reviewed, analyzed and compiled by NDL and will be disseminated in the USDA FoodData Central and in manuscripts. The VT PI assists with quality control, including development of analytical quality control plans, and technical assessment and evaluation of methodology and data. FALCC-VT also maintains ultra-low frozen storage of archive and reserve samples and control materials, documentation of sample information and processing, and conducts research on nutrient stability, retention, and other questions related to food composition that pertain to achieving the goals of this project.