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close this book Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987)
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close this folder Food composition data in Sweden and the nordic countries
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View the document Nutrient data banks in the other nordic countries
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Food composition data in Sweden and the nordic countries

(introductory text)

Swedish food composition tables
Swedish national nutrient data bases
Other Swedish data bases
Food composition tables in other nordic countries
Nutrient data banks in the other nordic countries

National Food Administration, Uppsala, Sweden

Swedish food composition tables

Swedish food composition tables

The National Food Administration is the central Swedish administrative authority on food matters. It belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture and has two main tasks: to protect the consumer against harmful foods and to help the consumer to evaluate and choose foodstuffs.

The National Institute of Public Health preceded the present administration and one of its tasks was the analysis of food items. These analyses together with data from the literature were compiled into a food composition table, Fodoamnestabeller, which was published by E. Abramson in 1947. Since then, these tables have been revised several times, the seventh edition being published in 1982 [1].

Analyses of foods for a comprehensive Swedish food composition table began in the early 1960s. The National Food Administration published such a table in 1978 and an abbreviated version in 1981. At present, the comprehensive table is being revised and extended to include more nutrients, and a new edition will be available in 1986 [10]. The abridged table was revised in 1984 [9].

Swedish national nutrient data bases

Swedish national nutrient data bases

In the early 1960s the National Institute of Public Health developed a nutrient data bank based mainly on the Abramson food composition table and data supplied by the food industry in Sweden. Since 1981, a new data bank has been prepared by the National Food Administration. This bank was first set up in order to expedite nutrient calculations in surveys, and began at the same time that the data collection for an extensive nutrition survey of children was under way in 1980-1981; it was first used for the nutrient analysis of the different food intake forms collected during this survey. The bank at present contains the nutritive values of 1,250 foods and about 1,200 recipes, including a large number of baby foods and certain catering products. For each item, the values for the energy, water, ash, and 31 other nutrients are given. For catering products only 12 nutrients are included (table 1).

Table 1. Nutrients in the Swedish National Nutrient Data Base

Energy (kJ and kcal)a Vitamin B6
Water Vitamin B12
Proteina Calciuma
Fata Phosphorus
Carbohydratea Irona
Alcohol Magnesium
Retinol Potassium
Active carotene Zinc
Retinol equivalentsa  
Vitamin D Saturated fatty acids
Vitamin E total Monoenes
Alpha-tocopherol Polyenes
Ascorbic acida  
Thiaminea Monosaccharides
Riboflavina Disacchandes
Niacin Sucrose
Niacin equivalentsa  

a. Nutrients for catering products.

Of special interest are a number of codes containing averages for different food groups. There are, for example, nutritive values for fresh vegetables based on the average consumption of different vegetables. These aggregate codes are used in certain types of planning, and in the calculation of average consumption figures from official statistics, which is carried out in cooperation with the national Agricultural Market Board. These codes are also suitable for nutrient calculations of dietary history forms.

In recipe calculation, food yields and changes of the nutrient content of dishes have been considered. Food-yield factors are based on both American and Swedish values, while factors of vitamin losses are based on different published data. Analyses of nutrient changes during preparation of certain common Swedish dishes are now in progress at the Food Administration.

At present, information on several nutrients is being incorporated: data on additional vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, and also on different carbohydrate fractions (including added refined sugars), dietary fibre, and fatty acids. The enlarged bank will be ready for use in 1986.

The Food Administration's nutrient data-base system is adapted for the user. After a few hours of instruction, a person can enter a seven-day record and calculate the nutrient content. More advanced statistical treatment requires a few days' training. At present, either partial or complete copies of this nutrient data bank are being used by, for example, the Departments of Nutrition and of Home Economics Education in some Swedish universities, by the National Agricultural Market board, by the Material Administration of the Armed Forces, and by some county councils.

Other Swedish data bases

Other Swedish data bases

During the last few years several nutrient data banks have been created and still more are planned. Today the Administration is aware of about 30 different systems.

The main applications of these systems are: nutrient calculation and analysis; recipe and product development; diet planning and analysis; menu planning; food production and control; and education and information.

The owners of nutrient data banks in Sweden represent the following categories: national authorities; regional and local authorities; universities and schools; food industries; wholesalers; and publishing and computer firms.

At the national level four national authorities are using nutrient data banks. The Administration can use the bank for nearly all purposes mentioned above but the most important task is nutrient analyses of large-scale nutrition surveys. The system used by the National Agricultural Market Board is applicable to nutrient calculation combined with food-consumption statistics and food-supply calculations.

The county councils of Sweden are responsible for health and welfare. Some of them are now using computers in the planning of cycle menus and of special diets and dietary analyses combined with patient counselling. Local authorities are also using their nutrient data banks for menu planning in different institutions, and for school lunches.

Five universities (in Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm, Umea, and Uppsala) have access to nutrient data banks. All of them also have close connections with large research hospitals. For research, training, education, dietary counselling, planning of special diets, etc., several institutes and departments need nutrient data banks. Swedish university units that now use nutrient data bases include nutrition and dietetics, medicine, odontology, food science and economics, home economics, psychology, sociology, European ethnology, cultural anthropology, economic history, and economics.

Large food industries use the banks for nutrient analysis for labelling and product information. Recipe or product development with evaluation of proposed product changes is another application.

One Swedish wholesaler has a private nutrient data bank. The test kitchen of this firm uses the bank and provides many restaurants with nutrient-analysis and menuplanning services. For the present, the other wholesalers are buying these services.

The oldest of the private nutrient data-base systems is Diet and Nutrition Data. This company serves different user categories with nutrient calculations and analyses. Other systems are more specialized, serving restaurants, catering companies, hospitals, etc.

Nearly all the nutrient data banks in Sweden are under development; the systems are growing and becoming more sophisticated. At present, a certain co-ordination is desirable.

Food composition tables in other nordic countries

Food composition tables in other nordic countries


Since 1973 two food composition tables compiled by Peder Helms have been used [2, 3]. Denmark's first official food composition tables were published in 1983, with a revised edition in spring 1986 [6].


In Finland there are no official food composition tables. However, those published by Osmo Turpeinen and Paavo Roine in 1952 have been updated regularly [11]. A comprehensive mineral and trace-element table of Finnish foods, edited by Pekka Koivistoinen, was published in 1980 [4] and two editions in Finnish by Pertti Varo came in 1980 and 1981 [12].

Data on dietary fibre and available carbohydrates in Finnish cereal products, vegetables, and fruits have been published by Pertti Varo et al. [13,14].

At the Department of Food Chemistry and Technology of the University of Helsinki, vitamin E, carotenoids and fatty acids in Finnish foods are now being analysed.


The National Nutrition Council is responsible for the scientific content of the Norwegian official food composition tables; they are produced and published by the National Society for Nutrition and Health. The first edition of the tables was published in 1958 and the fifth in 1984 [5].


Laboratories in Iceland analyse Icelandic foods and these analyses are published in, for example, the report series of the Agricultural Research Institute (RALA) [8]. Otherwise, British and American food composition tables are used.

Nutrient data banks in the other nordic countries

Nutrient data banks in the other nordic countries


In Denmark there are about 15 nutrient data-base systems. The official system was developed by the National Food Agency and is available on microcomputers in the agency and from the computer centres of the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus. This system is mainly used for nutrition surveys and is now being completely revised. In the future it will include data on about 100 nutrients and many non-nutrients for approximately 10,000 food items.

Another agency system, DANKOST, suited for nutrition calculation and planning of diets, was developed for microcomputers in 1985.

The Agriculture Computer Centre and the Danish Academy of Engineering are other organizations which own nutrient data-base systems. Several hospitals have systems for menu planning and diet analysis, one of which was developed by the Danish Hospital Institute. At the moment hospitals in the Copenhagen area are developing computer-based menu planning systems. Educational systems for different school levels have been made available by the Ministry of Education. Small systems for weight reduction are also in use.

Table 2. Nutrient data banks in the Nordic countries: Finland, 1985

System owner The State Catering Centre The Dept. of Nutrition, University of Helsinki The Rehabilitation Research Centre The National Public Health Institute
Address Boks 332 SF-00531 Helsinki 53 Finland SF-00710 Helsinki Finland Pettolavagen 3, SF-20720 ABO Finland The Social insurance Institute P.O. Box 640, SF-00101 Helsinki, Finland Mannerheimvagen 166 SF-00280 Helsinki Finland
System name in operation since 1984 1972 New version, 1981 1985
Nutrient data sources Turpheinen; Food Composition Tables, 1980; product information from food industry Turpheinen; Food Composition Tables, 1980; Varo, Mineral Tables, 1982; other food composition tables - Swedish, 1978, British, 1967 Norwegian, 1977, German, 1981; literature; own analy ses; product information Food composition tables - Swedish, 1978, German, 1981, British, 1978, USA USDA Agricullure Hand- book No. 8-1; product information Nordic food composition tables; other tables; own analyses; product information
Number of (a) foods, (b) recipes, (c) aggregated foods, a-b, a-c (a) 360; (b) 78 (a) 450; (b) 400 (a) 500; (b) 400 (a) 450; (b) 700
Nutrients/food 8 60 70 65
Other components/food Food cost data Recipe procedures    
Nutrition recommendation No No RDA and Swedish Nutrition Recommendations No
Recipe calculation        
Food yields No Yes Nutrient changes of every  
Nutrient losses and gains; factors No Yes food item in the recipes  
System is used by The staff of the Centre Scientists and students of the department Scientists, dietitians, etc., of the Centre or the institute The staff of the Institute
System is suited for Nutrition surveys; diet planning; menu planning Nutrition surveys; research; education Nutrition surveys; research; diet planning Nutrition surveys research
System is used for Calculation of nutrients; calculation of costs. Calculation of nutrients Calculation of nutrients Calculation of nutrients
Computer   Borroughs 7800 IBM 30840 VAX
Program source        
Program language APL PASCAL APL PASCAL
Operating data-base management system       VMS/RMS
Access   Modern and terminal Modem and terminal  
For sale:        
Nutrient data-base system No No No No
Nutrient data base No No No No




1. E. Abramson and B.-M. Andersson, Kosttabell, 7th ed. (Fesselte Studium, Stockholm, 1982).

2. P. Helms, Fodevaretabeller (Akademisk Forlag, Copenhagen, 1973-1975).

3. P. Helms, Naeringstoftabeller (Laegeforeningens Forlag, Copenhagen, 1978).

4. P. Koivistoinen, ea., Mineral Element Composition of Finnish Foods: N, K, Ca, Mg, P, S, Fe, Cu, Mn, Zn, Mo, Co, Ni, Cr, F, Se, Si, Rb, Al, B, Pr, Hg, As, Cd, Pb and Ash, (Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Suppl. 22 (Stockholm, 1980).

5. Matvaretabell, Statens ernaeringsrad, 5th rev. ed. (Landsforeningen for Kosthold og Helse, Oslo, 1984).

6. A. Møller, comp., Levnedsmiddeltabeller, 2nd rev. ed. (Levnedsmiddelstyrelsen, Soborg, 1986).

7. NORFOODS Directory of Nordic Nutrient Data Banks (in press).

8. J. O. Ragnarsson, O. Reykdal, G. Thorkelsson, D. Johannsdottir, G. Sigurthorsson, E. Hilmarsdottir, and A. Sigurdsson, Nutritional Value of Icelandic Processed Meat Products, RALA Report, no. 107 (Utgefandi, Rannsoknastofnun Landbunadarins, Agricultural Research Institute, Keldnaholt, Reykjavik, 1984).

9. Statens Livsmedelsverk, Lirsmedelstabeller: energi och vissa naringsamnenskolupplaga, 2nd rev. ed. (Statens Livsmedelsverk, Uppsala, 1984).

10. Statens Livsmedelsverk, Livsmedelstabeller: energi och vissa naringsamnen, 2nd rev. ed. (Statens Livsmedelsverk, Uppsala, in press).

11. O. Turpeinen, Ruoka-ainetaulukko [Food Composition Table] (Otava, Helsinki, 1985).

12. P. Varo, Kivennaisainetaulukko [The Mineral Element Table] (Otava, Helsinki, 1981).

13. P. Varo, R. Laine, K. Veijhalainen, A. Espo, A. Wetterhoff, and P. Koivistoinen, "Dietary Fiber and Available Carbohydrates in Finnish Vegetables and Fruits," J. Agr. Sci. Finland, 56: 49-59 (1984).

14. P. Varo, R. Laine, K. Veijalainen, K. Pero, and P. Koivistoinen, "Dietary Fiber and Available Carbohydrates in Finnish Cereal Products," J. Agr. Sci. Finland, 56: 39-48 (1984).