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Updated 2017-04-30

 Method - the ways to determine values in food composition databases

In a broad sense, the term 'method' in food composition refers to the way a certain value has been derived for presentation in the food composition database or table, i.e. has the value been obtained by analysis, by calculation or by deduction, e.g. from another food or by logical deduction.

It is important to indicate how the specific values in a food composition table/database have been derived - is the value a result of chemical analysis, a calculation or estimated/guess (a "guestimate")?

In the draft EuroFIR standard, the value is described with a series of mandatory descriptors using predefined controlled terms in the form of thesauri.
The overall and mandatory value description follows the value closely - in the figure below in the Value table - with Value Type, Acqusisition Type, Method Type, Method Indicator and Method Parameter information. All defined by controlled vocabularies, the socalled EuroFIR Thesauri.

The method specification is a main (currently not mandatory) entity in the draft EuroFIR standard's table metaphor contains detailed description of the analytical or calculation method used to derive the specific value.
The content of the method specification (shown with a red frame in the simple database layout below) is mainly intended for specific chemical (and microbiological) analytical information, but is also suitable for detailed description of calculation methods. The information occupies a database table of its own.


Entity-Relationship Diagram


The Eurofoods Draft Standard (and its Technical Annex) was further refined with the EuroFIR Food Data Transport Package, which in details refined and expanded the previously defined entities.





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.