USDA Partners To Launch Food Product Nutrition Database

The Lempert Report
November 23, 2016

Nutrition apps and labeling schemes abound, but for how long?

It seems that the government wants a piece of the growing trend in communicating and making recommendations to shoppers through their mobile devices. The U.S.D.A. has launched the “Branded Food Products Database,” a free online resource containing nutrition details on more than 80,000 name brand prepared and packaged foods available at restaurants and grocery stores.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service partnered with the International Life Sciences Institute North America, GS1 US (the bar code folks), 1WorldSync, and Label Insight to develop the new database and user-friendly interface to make it easier for private food companies to add and update data.

The goal of the “Branded Food Products Database” is to provide a transparent source of information that can assist health professionals identifying foods and portion size for people with food allergies, diabetes, kidney disease, and other conditions. They are also offering the database as a resource for consumer health and nutrition apps.

We applaud the move. There are so many nutrition apps available, with some who’s information is questionable at best and used to sell consumers supplements, vitamins or other consumables – or others that have a financial stake in pushing one type of diet over another - this is game-changing and levels the playing field for consumers. The ability to access accurate and impartial information is critical.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expects 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 current Nutrition Facts Panel and to come, 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.

We reported a few weeks ago about the Chiobani Food Incubator Competition – here are the winners:

  • Banza makes a more nutritious pasta and foods that are made from garbanzo beans.
  • CHOPS Snacks produces a range of jerky snacks, using all-natural premium beef brisket and 100% natural spices.
  • Cissé Cocoa Co. is a Fair Trade organic chocolate company
  • JAR Goods produces specialty foods in, what else, jars
  • Kettle & Fire is the only USDA grass-fed bone broth made with fresh, organic ingredients
  • Misfit Juicery makes cold-pressed juices with 70%–80% of fruit and veggie trimmings and scrap waste produced when companies make fresh cut produce.

We wish all the semi finalists our congrats and look forward to see the results in March 2017.