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A Partnership for Public Health:
USDA Branded Food Products Database

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USDA releases press release - 16 September

Partnership releases press release - 20 September

The goal of "A Partnership for Public Health: USDA Branded Food Products Database" is to improve public health and the sharing of open data by expanding and enhancing the USDA National Nutrient Database with nutrient composition and ingredient information on branded foods and private label data provided by the food industry. The publicly available database will contain much more information on individual food items allowing for a true assessment of the extent and fluidity of the food system and will ensure that these data elements are available to those who will utilize them.

The Public-Private Partnership includes: USDA, ILSI North America, GS1 US, 1WorldSync, and Label Insight.

The USDA Branded Food Products Database is a voluntary initiative. However, once a manufacturer or retailer decides to participate and submit data to the USDA Branded Food Products Database, they must provide the following information:

NFP

The USDA Branded Food Products Database officially launched on 16 September 2016 at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit by USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack and Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki.  Read the USDA press release

FAQ

What is "A Partnership for Public Health: USDA Branded Food Products Database" and why is it being established?"

A Partnership for Public Health: The USDA Branded Food Products Database is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the International Life Sciences Institute North America (ILSI North America), GS1 US, 1WorldSync, and Label Insight, whose goal is to enhance public health and the sharing of open data by augmenting the USDA National Nutrient Database with nutrient composition and ingredient information on branded foods and private label data provided by the food industry. The USDA Branded Food Products Database, which will be seamlessly integrated into the existing USDA National Nutrient Database, will ensure that these data elements are publicly available to those who will utilize them. This includes, but is not limited to, federal agencies, the research community, international databases, proprietary databases and end users, and the food industry.

What information will be included in the USDA Branded Food Products Database?

The USDA Branded Food Products Database will include information on:

  • the product name and generic descriptor,
  • serving size and servings per package,
  • nutrients shown on the Nutrition Facts Panel or the Expanded Nutrition Facts Panel,
  • weights and measures,
  • the ingredient list and sub-list, and
  • a date stamp associated with the most current formulation of the branded or private label food product.

The USDA Branded Food Products Database will enhance and expand the USDA National Nutrient Database to be more reflective of the nation’s food supply.

Why is the USDA Branded Food Products Database being established as a Public-Private Partnership?

The composition of the food supply and consumer dietary choices are key inputs for agricultural and food policy decisions. This requires comprehensive food composition data, but the volume and fluidity of branded and private label food products in the U.S. marketplace are key challenges to the robustness of such data. Expertise to compile branded and private label data, and private sector engagement in providing the data, are necessary to maximize content and provide the needed information for nutrition, agricultural, and diet-related health policy. This endeavor is best pursued through a public-private partnership.

Who will use the USDA Branded Food Products Database and how will it be beneficial?

Various sectors of the research community, and the food and health care industries, will find this database valuable. For example, the database will:

  • enhance the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) by more accurately characterizing food selection and nutrient intakes for Americans;
  • enable nutrition software developers to produce enhanced software so that dietitians will be able to better tailor diets to nutritional needs;
  • enable medical researchers to better link dietary intakes to measures of chronic diseases; and
  • enable policy-making bodies to develop better guidelines that will promote public health.

 

In addition, food manufacturers may use the USDA Branded Food Products Database to develop new product formulations.

As a manufacturer or retailer, how does my company submit data to the USDA Branded Food Products Database?

There are two options for data submission to the USDA Branded Food Products Database.

  1. Brands who are leveraging the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network, can synchronize product data directly to the USDA Branded Food Products Database.
  2. Label Insight allows brands to submit their product data to the USDA Branded Food Products Database via a simple drag and drop portal on labelinsight.com. Manufacturers and retailers simply load their package flat (mechanicals) images directly into the Label Insight platform for immediate data generation, transformation and attribution. As long as the package flats (mechanicals) represent the print ready package complete with all sides of the package, nutrition facts panel, ingredient panel, and U.P.C., Label Insight handles the rest.
What distinguishes the USDA Branded Food Products Database from other food composition databases?

The USDA National Nutrient Database is widely recognized as the gold standard for food composition data.  Many databases, including proprietary databases, build from the USDA National Nutrient Database.  The USDA Branded Food Products Database will expand the USDA National Nutrient Database with timely data submissions and will be scalable to manage a large volume of food product information, allowing real-time linkage of food intake and nutrient composition to dietary patterns recommendations.  The USDA Branded Food Products Database may be used as a model for other countries and could expand globally if international food products were included, which USDA would welcome.

What is the difference between the USDA Branded Food Products Database and SmartLabel™?

SmartLabel™ is a tool that gives consumers a way to get more detailed ingredient information about a wide range of food, beverage, and personal care products. This transparency program, created by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, its member companies, and retailers, enables consumers to access additional details about products by scanning a barcode or doing an online search to reach a landing page with information on ingredients and other attributes, such as third-party certifications and social compliance programs. Consumers want to know, “what is that ingredient?”, “why is it in my food?”, “what does it do?” and even “where does it come from?” The USDA Branded Food Products Database, within the existing USDA National Nutrient Database, serves an audience of scientific researchers, academicians, government agencies, and others by providing nutrient composition and ingredient information on branded and private label foods and beverages. The USDA Branded Food Products Database will be searchable by product category and will be downloadable.

Who are the partners?

US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Founded in 1862, USDA is the U.S. federal executive department that provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.  The USDA funds/manages many internal and external programs that conduct research, set public policy and disseminate information regarding food, nutrition, healthy eating and the relationship between agricultural production and optimal nutrition. www.usda.gov/

 

International Life Sciences Institute North America (ILSI North America)

ILSI North America is a public, non-profit scientific foundation that advances the understanding and application of science related to the nutritional quality and safety of the food supply. The organization carries out its mission by sponsoring research programs, professional and educational programs and workshops, seminars, and publications, as well as providing a neutral forum for government, academic, and industry scientists to discuss and resolve scientific issues of common concern for the well-being of the general public. ILSI North America's programs are supported primarily by its industry membership. www.ilsina.org/

GS1 US

GS1 US®, a member of the global information standards organization GS1®, brings industry communities together to solve supply-chain problems through the adoption and implementation of GS1 Standards. Nearly 300,000 businesses in 25 industries rely on GS1 US for trading-partner collaboration and for maximizing the cost effectiveness, speed, visibility, security and sustainability of their business processes. They achieve these benefits through solutions based on GS1 global unique numbering and identification systems, barcodes, Electronic Product Code (EPC®)-enabled RFID, data synchronization, and electronic information exchange. GS1 US also manages the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC®). www.GS1US.org

1WorldSync

1WorldSync is the leading multi-enterprise product information network, helping more than 17,000 global brands and their trading partners in 60 countries – share authentic, trusted content with customers and consumers, empowering them to make intelligent choices and decisions concerning purchases, lifestyle and well-being. 1WorldSync maintains the world’s largest data pool in the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) with more than 14 million items (76% of total items).

1WorldSync’s Product Information Cloud platform was designed for businesses to exchange authentic and enriched product data and digital content, creating a mission critical foundation for connected commerce. Through its technology platform and expert services, 1WorldSync provides solutions that meet the diverse needs of its customers in B2B Supply Chain, Product Transparency and Compliance, or Digital Commerce. 

1WorldSync is jointly owned by the member organizations of GS1 Germany and GS1 US.  For more information, please visit www.1worldsync.com/

 

Label Insight

Label Insight provides SaaS data solutions that generate powerful insights for and strengthen the connections between CPG brands, retailers and consumers. The company's cloud-based product data engine enables CPG brands and retailers to transform basic product data into smart attributes, providing a deep understanding of their product set. Label Insight offers an unmatched level of data, generating 15,000 attributes - such as nutrients and allergens - per product.  These attributes serve as building blocks for a live view of data for more than 300,000 products across 17,000 brands, totaling over 80% of the U.S. retail food and beverage market. Label Insight customers use this deep level of product data to provide greater transparency to consumers; maximize category growth potential; easily participate in industry and government initiatives; and create more connected omni-channel experiences. www.labelinsight.com/

Who Contributed?

US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
US Food & Drug Administration
GS1 US
Health Canada
IBM
ILSI North America
Label Insight
National Nutrient Databank Network
National Institutes of Health
Penn State University
Pew Charitable Trusts
University of Maryland Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN)
University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center
USDA Agricultural Research Service
USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
USDA National Agriculture Library
1WorldSync

ILSI North America's Involvement

A Presidential Memo on 28 October, 2011 directed agencies to develop public-private partnerships in areas of importance to the agency's mission. In response, Dr. Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary and Chief Science Officer of the USDA, developed multiple initiatives, including one to augment the USDA National Nutrient Database with compositional data on branded food products.  As part of USDA response to the Presidential Memorandum, USDA approached ILSI North America to see if the organization would join with the Agency in a public-private partnership to enhance USDA National Nutrient Database with branded and private label food products.

Beyond our interest in seeing big data being realized in the USDA National Nutrient Database System, our interest in partaking in the Partnership stemmed from its work on a manuscript on 12 principles for best practices in the establishment and operation of research public-private partnerships and the interest in undertaking a “proof of concept” using the 12 principles.  (more information about the 12 principles)