FDNC researchers have been producing and managing data for the UK food composition dataset since 1978, and provided data and technical support for McCance and Widdowson’s (eds.) The Composition of Foods 5th (1991), 6th (2002) and 7th (2014) editions.
Since 2009, FDNC has led the multi-disciplinary consortium, funded by Public Health England (PHE), to maintain and update the UK food composition dataset.
Management of the programme of nutrient analysis surveys and associated work for the UK Composition of Foods
This was a four-year project funded by the Public Health England (formerly Department of Health) that finished in 2014 and aimed to:
- Review and revise out-of-date foods and food groups within the UK food composition nutrient dataset by carrying out three analytical surveys;
- Update the online Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset (CoFID) using new and previously unpublished data, and promote its visibility and use to a wider audience;
- Publish the 7th edition of McCance and Widdowson's (eds.) The Composition of Foods (published September 2014);
- Work more closely with industry and other European compilers (via link to EuroFIR AISBL) to identify and exchange food composition data especially for branded foods
The food composition data underpins the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS).
FDNC collaborated closely with the British Nutrition Foundation, who support dissemination and stakeholder engagements, two analytical laboratories (Laboratory of the Government Chemist and Eurofins), and the Royal Society of Chemistry, who publish the McCance and Widdowson series of books and new eBooks.
Results and updates are widely publicised including survey reports, presentations and posters at UK science and health conferences, and various scientific publications. The project was also supported by separate FDNC and EU-funded activities on improved data quality methods, new and novel uses of food data including software and other tools to support research, and improved integration between composition and consumption data for pan-EU dietary assessment.
We welcome suggestions and comments on the current dataset from users, other interested parties and the public. We will also consider additional data sources, and potential alternative funding as well as a range of dissemination routes.
The following analytical surveys have been published:
- Nutrient analysis of fruit and vegetables 2013
- Nutrient analysis of eggs (revised version) 2013
- Nutrient analysis of fish and fish products 2013
- Nutrient analysis of a range of processed foods with particular reference to trans fatty acids (revised version) 2013
- Nutrient analysis of eggs 2012
- Nutrient analysis of a range of processed foods with particular reference to trans fatty acids 2011
- Nutrient analysis survey of biscuits, buns, cakes and pastries 2011
Each survey contains new analytical data for around 60 composite foods. The surveys generally include foods most commonly consumed by the UK population and foods for which the market is growing. For example, the survey on biscuits, buns, cakes and pastries contains data for composite foods such as short sweet biscuits, plain digestives and jam filled biscuits.
Links to all published reports can be found in the publications section below.
McCance and Widdowson's The Composition of Foods
McCance and Widdowson's (eds.) The Composition of Foods (7th edn.; MW7) provides the most recent nutrient values for a range of commonly consumed foods in the UK. Since the publication of the sixth edition in 2002, 12 analytical surveys have been undertaken. MW7 includes the majority of the new data from these surveys. In addition to new analytical values, all foods have been reviewed to check that the values are representative of foods currently consumed. Many processed foods have been reformulated to reduce the content of salt, sugar and fat in line with government public health initiatives and, where necessary, values have been updated with industry to reflect those changes in composition. Values for a wide range of nutrients (e.g. proximates, inorganics, vitamins, fibre and fatty acids) are provided and additional tables provide data for carotenoid fractions, vitamin E fractions and vitamin K for selected foods. AOAC fibre values have been included for a wide range of foods to enable energy calculations, including fibre for food labelling purposes.
For more information about the book and the official book launch event, please click here.
We have worked with RSC to develop two eBooks covering the Fish and Fish Products and the Miscellaneous Foods Supplements to the 5th Edition and these are already available as part of RSC’s eBook collection. Additional eBooks for MW6, MW7 and other supplements will be available shortly.
The ‘Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset’ (CoFID) was first published in 2008, and brought together for the first time all the available data in electronic format as a single, consolidated, dataset. The 2015 version is an update of the original publication, and includes all the new and recently reviewed data.
Some foods that were included in the 2008 CoFID have not been reviewed or validated in the 2015 update, and those foods are published separately in a file containing data for ‘old’ foods. These data can be used in addition to the 2015 dataset, but users should be aware that the values for some nutrients may not represent those foods as currently consumed.
Foods calculated by recipe or calculated based on another food (e.g., foods weighed with waste) have been recalculated to include the most recent data for ingredients and the dataset therefore contains some newly created codes which have not previously been published.
The CoFID lists analytical nutrient data for 2,898 foods, with a further 393 in the ‘old foods’ file. The data are divided across 13 worksheets, and include nutrient data for:
- vitamin fractions
- fatty acid fractions
- organic acids
A subset of the data has been published recently in book form as McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods seventh summary edition.
The EuroFIR FoodEXplorer facility is an innovative interface, which can be accessed online and allows its users the simultaneous search of more than 20 standardised and specialised food composition databases (FCDB). Users have access to a wide range of European data, linking foods and nutrients through harmonised data description and associated nutrient value information.
The search facilities include options to search on food name, food description and a combination of food name and food description as well as the powerful and unique ability to compare the component values between foods from European FCDBs. Outputs can be downloaded as spreadsheets, allowing the user to manage the data as required. The FCDBs linked with EuroFIR use standardised food description (LanguaL) and standardised component and value description through the use of thesauri (standard vocabularies) to achieve a fully standardised approach linking between data in the various European FCDBs.
The quality of food composition data depends on many factors including the tools used to manage the data. ETH Zürich (Switzerland, www.ethz.ch) developed FoodCASE software in collaboration with EuroFIR compiler organisations – organisations that are responsible for developing and maintaining national food composition resources – as part of a project defining, categorising and monitoring food composition data quality.
FoodCASE manages food composition data at several levels (original, aggregated and published data), which are implemented as independent modules, and interconnected by user-choices and recipe calculations. FoodCASE collects meta-information (e.g. date created, author) to ensure food composition data fully documented, and facilitates data sharing and exchange online by using a standardised data format. It also supports pre-defined thesauri – set ways in which foods etc. are described – such as LanguaL and EuroFIR thesauri and can be extended to include others (e.g. INFOODS tagnames or country-specific thesauri).
The overarching research goal was the creation of a data quality framework that minimised human errors by leading the data input through standardised templates emphasising mandatory and quality increasing information. The data quality framework also maximised computer-derived assistance in evaluating FCD quality, including calculations, visualisations and interpretation as well as the identification of deficiencies. FoodCASE supports platform-independent, concurrent user access (web or local), is based on open-source technologies, and has the potential to use multiple languages and data flagging for advanced data filtering.
Currently, FoodCASE is being tested for implementation by several countries including the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany and the UK.
Public Health England
PHE provides strategic leadership for public health, the National Health Service (NHS) and social care in England, and in doing so achieve better health, better care, and better value for all. Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland provide similar functions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency continues to hold the remit to provide advice to Ministers on nutrition. Together, the UK Health Departments and the Food Standards Agency aim to improve dietary health across the United Kingdom.
National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS)
NDNS is a continuous cross-sectional survey assessing the diet, nutrient intake and nutritional status, of the general population, from the age of 18 months, living in private households in the UK.
EuroFIR AISBL is a non-profit, membership-based international association based in Belgium. Its main aim is to develop, manage, publish and exploit food composition data in Europe, and promote international co-operation and harmonisation through improved data quality, database searchability and standards globally. Nearly all European food composition database compiler organisations are members, together with compilers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN) - food data standards
A European standard food data standard has been developed in order to improve access to, and exchange of comparable, high-quality food composition data for the industry, regulators and researchers across Europe. The project committee (CEN/TC 387) on food composition data was launched in 2008, and is led jointly by the Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and the Swedish National Food Administration (NFA) and supported by EuroFIR. The standard was published as a European Standard, EN 16104:2012, Food data - Structure and interchange format, on 3 November 2012.
British Nutrition Foundation
BNF is a registered charity that exists to deliver authoritative, evidence-based information on food and nutrition in the context of health and lifestyle through engagement with government, schools, industry, health professionals and journalists.
Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
The RSC is the largest organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a worldwide network of members and an international publishing business, activities span education, conferences, science policy and the promotion of chemistry to the public.
Eurofins is a leading international group of laboratories with more than 11,500 employees at 160 sites in 32 countries. There are nine sites in the UK, and the Eurofins provides an unparalleled range of testing methods and support services to the pharmaceutical, food, environmental and consumer product industries, and governments.
LGC is an international leader in the laboratory services, measurement standards, reference materials and proficiency testing marketplaces. Products and service include investigative, diagnostic and measurement science, and conform to international statutory and regulatory standards. LGC is the UK National Measurement Institute for chemical and biochemical analysis, National Reference Laboratory, and is the host organisation for the UK’s Government Chemist function.
Established in 1998, Brandbank is Europe's largest provider of digital images and data for eCommerce sites. Their expertise includes brand creation, validation, distribution and syndication. Companies use Brandbank-powered digital brand content to drive eCommerce, mobile apps, virtual warehousing systems, and more.
Our customers include retailers and wholesalers as well as around 3,500 suppliers and manufacturers of more than 250,000 products.
Food Industry and Retail Organisations
Food industry and retail organisations are a vital in the food chain, and provide essential information and recommendations in food composition research.