| Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987) |
|Managing food composition data|
|Concerns of users of nutrient data bases|
Data-base and software products
As computer technology became available, some data-base developers constructed customized data bases, including many constituents not then present in data bases from government sources or published tables . Some of these large data bases have since been made available to other users with access to mainframe computers.
More recently, the availability of microcomputers has provided data-processing access for most professionals and a segment of the lay public. The number of products available to meet the needs of the second tier of users has expanded rapidly during the past few years. A total of 69 analysis systems are described in the fourth edition of the Nutrient Data Bank Directory . Many of the packages were developed for use on microcomputers. The number of foods and nutrients varies. Because initial data storage was limited on microcomputers, some of the early nutrient data bases developed for small machines contain fewer foods and nutrients than are now available. Some developers have concentrated on providing data for popular foods with complete profiles for nutrients of greatest interest.
With so many packages readily available, many individuals are confused when making a choice and do not know how to assess the products. Those users having their first experience with computers are often unaware of what issues to consider. Hence, the first tier of users must assume the responsibility for supplying creditable nutrient data bases and analysis software.