NEW YORK — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last month launched the USDA Branded Food Products Database (ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb), a free online resource for families, the food industry and researchers containing nutrition details on more than 80,000 name brand prepared and packaged foods available at restaurants and grocery stores.
The announcement was made at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Summit.
"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 said. "The partnership that produced the database is more proof that governments, nonprofits, businesses and researchers are capable fostering scientific innovation by making life-changing data open and available to parents, healthcare 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."
The USDA Agricultural Research Service partnered with the International Life Sciences Institute North America, GS1 US, 1WorldSync, and Label Insight to develop the database and interface so private food companies can add and update data. The database provides a source of information that can assist health professionals identifying foods and portion size for people with food allergies, diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions. Common consumer health and nutrition apps may also use the data as a resource to bring information to consumers on a phone or watch while shopping or dining out.
The Branded Food Products Database expands the USDA National Nutrient Database, which contained basic information on about 8,800 branded foods and has served as a source of food composition data for government, researchers and the food industry.
As information is added, it is expected the new database will include up to 500,000 products with an expanded level of 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 GODAN initiative (www.godan.info) was co-founded by the U.S. government and is an international partnership of more than 350 organizations representing governments, donors, businesses, and not-for-profits working to make agriculture and nutrition data available, accessible and usable for unrestricted use worldwide.