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close this bookFood Composition Data: A User's Perspective (UNU, 1987, 223 pages)
close this folderManaging food composition data
close this folderConcerns of users of nutrient data bases
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentAccessibility
View the documentInstallation and updating efforts
View the documentData availability
View the documentComputational concerns
View the documentData-base and software products
View the documentReferences

Data availability

The numbers of foods and food constituents per food desired in a nutrient data base vary according to the information requirements of users. Those engaged in research are usually interested in a high level of specificity in food description for those foods of interest to them. In contrast, users in other settings are generally satisfied to use data bases where the items are described in less detail.

In the survey of data-base developers, data on brand-name foods were requested for cereals, candies, fast foods, frozen entrees, margarines, formulated "recipe" items, and fortified foods. Thirty-eight of 52 respondents indicated a need for brand-name data. Some users requested that values be given for all nutrients where Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) have been established. Often, users have little basis for imputing missing values in the nutrient profiles. The nutrient profiles provided in conjunction with nutritional labelling often lack data for constituents of interest to nutritionists.

More complete data are needed for several food constituents. Of particular concern are data on fibre, individual sugars, other carbohydrate fractions, and trace elements. Some developers are also seeking data for the caffeine and alcohol content of foods. The prevalence of missing data in many data bases is a problem. Users are seeking complete profiles for a broad range of nutrients for foods commonly consumed.