| Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987) |
|Managing food composition data|
|Concerns of users of nutrient data bases|
Numerous uses of nutrient data bases have been identified in the professional literature during the past twenty years [5, 6,12]. Users of nutrient analysis software vary greatly in their degree of sophistication and hold widely varying ideas about what a nutrient data base should contain and the features of the associated computer programs. Professionals are seeking reliable data and systems but have no definitive measures for identifying such systems.
A two-tier system of users, with differing needs, has evolved. The first tier interacts directly with depositories of nutrient data- USDA, food manufacturers, and other sources of nutrient data. This group of users includes researchers, clinical practitioners in complex organizations with data-processing support, vendors of nutrient analysis software systems and services, and some private practitioners. These experienced and knowledgeable users who have maintained nutrient data bases for several years are acquainted with the issues of accessibility, installation and updating effort, availability, and computational concerns; they are concerned with the existence of software and data bases that are questionable with respect to accuracy of data, computational results, and dietary guidance.
The second tier of users consists of those individuals who acquire software packages or analysis services from vendors or through resource-sharing arrangements. These are often firsttime users who may be unaware of methodological and structural issues. They are often concerned about compatibility with a given brand of hardware, cost, and how to select a suitable system.
The first tier of more sophisticated users is likely to benefit most from a data network such as the one envisioned by INFOODS. The second tier will benefit indirectly, as more adequate and comprehensive data bases and software packages become available in the market-place. Meeting the needs of the first tier of users should be given priority.