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Updated 2015-08-15

 Components in Food Composition Databases

The components in food composition databases are the descriptors (identifiers) that are used to identify the chemical sustances, compounds or physico-chemical properties to which the reported values relate.
The components are typically defined with a more or less complete description and are typically held in a simple list or in a more complex thesaurus (or ontology) in a database or printed form.

The list or thesaurus entry normally includes the descriptor and its corresponding component name, a scope note to define usage of the term and additional information.

A few typical examples of these lists or thesauri ("systems") are in non-prioritised order

Several of the listed examples cross-link to other component lists, e.g. ChEBI links to CAS Numbers and IUPAC names, the EuroFIR Thesaurus link to ChEBI identifiers and INFOODS food component identifiers, etc.

Although there is an ongoing discussion of which system is best or to use, it is evident the use of a "system" must match its purpose. As the different "systems" are constructed for specific and/or different purposes, the food composition data compiler is often in the situation that there is a need for applying several of the systems in parallel. This is especially the cases when the food composition database contains information from several different component groups, e.g. nutrient, heavy metals, pesticides, food additives, etc., which is most likely the case in modern laboratory information management systems (LIMS).

The typical component thesaurus is organised into a hierarchy that uses group headings that are not used to identify components for individual compositional values. A term or group heading may be linked to more than one parent term in the hierarchy (a poly-hierarchy), e.g. L-Ascorbic acid can be both a naturally occuring nutient (vitamin) and a food additive (antioxidant).

A component thesaurus also includes descriptors for measurable properties such as density, pH, edible proportion, etc. so that their values can also be reported using the Value entity.

NEVO-Online 2019

New edition of Dutch food composition database NEVO-online: compositional data on more than 2150 food items - 2019. See NEVO website.
USDA ARS FoodData Central

USDA's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC) has established FoodData Central. Available at
UK Composition of Foods online

Food Databanks National Capability extended dataset based on PHE’s McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset.
Composition of foods integrated dataset (CoFID) 2019

McCance and Widdowson’s 'composition of foods integrated dataset' on the nutrient content of the UK food supply. Available from Public Health England's website.