USDA unveils new food products database

by Eric Schroeder
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 USDA
The free online resource is a collaborative effort between the USDA and global groups.
 

NEW YORK — Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Sept. 16 unveiled the USDA Branded Food Products Database (ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/). The free online resource for families, the food industry and researchers contains nutrition details on more than 80,000 branded prepared and packaged foods available at restaurants and grocery stores.

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture 

“There is so much data from the public and private sectors that can improve the health and quality of life for millions of people, if it can be made more readily available,” Vilsack told participants at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit held Sept. 15-16 at the New York Hilton Midtown. “The partnership that produced the database is more proof that governments, nonprofits, businesses and researchers are capable of fostering scientific innovation by making life-changing data open and available to parents, health care professionals, scientists, businesses and everyone interested. I look forward to being surprised by innovations we have not even thought of yet as a result of so much information becoming so reliable and accessible.”

Development of the database was a collaborative effort between the Agricultural Research Service of the US Dept. of Agriculture, the International Life Sciences Institute North America (ILSI North America), GS1 US, 1WorldSync and Label Insight. The database provides a transparent source of information that may assist health professionals identifying foods and portion size for people with food allergies, diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions. The data also will be accessible to consumers via a phone or watch in real time while shopping or dining out, the USDA said.

The Branded Food Products Database is expected to “greatly expand and enhance” the USDA National Nutrient Database, which contains basic information on about 8,800 branded foods and has served as a main source of food composition data for government, researchers and the food industry. As information is added in the coming months, the new database is expected to include up to 500,000 products with more detail, including serving size, servings per package and nutrients shown on the Nutrition Facts Panel or the Expanded Nutrition Facts Panel, plus weights and measures, ingredient list and sub-list, and a date stamp associated with current formulation of the product, the USDA said.

In addition to the launch of the new database, Vilsack announced the release of an update to the Global Agricultural Concept Scheme (GACS). The GACS contains more than 350,000 terms in 28 languages that establishes common terminology for data users across the agriculture and nutrition fields worldwide. GACS is a collaborative effort between the USDA, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International to make it easier for researchers and policy makers to work together using the same technical language.

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