Five organizations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), the International Life Sciences Institute North America (ILSI North America), GS1 US, 1WorldSync, and Label Insight have formed a collaborative public-private partnership to deliver “A Partnership for Public Health: USDA Branded Food Products Database” with the goal of strengthening public health and the open sharing of food composition data.
The USDA Branded Food Products Database was officially announced on Friday, September 16 by Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Summit in New York. It expands and enhances the existing USDA National Nutrient Database, which serves as a main source of food composition data for governments, the public health research community and the food industry. It also provides public access to nutrient composition and ingredient information on branded foods and store brand data provided voluntarily by the food industry. The composition of the food supply and consumer dietary choices are key inputs for agricultural and food policy decisions. Comprehensive data can inform these decisions, but the volume and fluidity of branded food products in the U.S. marketplace are key challenges.
Through their mutual interest in cooperative technology transfer, the partners have developed the USDA Branded Food Products Database to receive more timely data submissions from manufacturers and retailers and have structured it to manage a larger volume of food product information. Currently, the Database includes 80,000 products and is anticipated to grow exponentially in the coming months. Its new functionality also allows for real-time linkage of food intake and nutrient composition to dietary pattern recommendations. In addition, food manufacturers can benefit from using the latest version to develop new product formulations and support overall industry goals to provide information transparency.
“The future for research and the health of the public lies in open data and therefore, ILSI North America is pleased to be a part of this significant open data project,” says Eric Hentges, Executive Director of ILSI North America.
The USDA Branded Food Products Database will include the following information:
- Product name and generic description
- Serving size and servings per package
- Nutrients shown on the Nutrition Facts Panel or the Expanded Nutrition Facts Panel
- Weights and measures
- Ingredient list and sub-list
- A date stamp associated with current formulation of the branded or store brand food product
“This partnership comes at a crucial time for food manufacturers, as consumers are demanding more transparency of product information than ever before,” said Ruben Castano, Managing Director of Americas at 1WorldSync. “By bringing together both public and private market leaders to create this new Database, consumers will be empowered with an unprecedented level of information about food nutritional content.”
Manufacturers and retailers have two options for data submission to the USDA Branded Food Products Database. Brands that are leveraging the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) can synchronize product data directly. Additionally, Label Insight allows brands to submit their product data via a simple “drag and drop” portal on www.labelinsight.com/USDA-database.
“The USDA Branded Products Database offers another way for the food industry to leverage GS1 Standards for improved product data sharing and transparency. This industry collaboration supports common goals to provide a more complete picture of food in the supply chain,” said Angela Fernandez, Vice President of Retail Grocery and Foodservice, GS1 US.
“Label Insight was founded with the mission of enabling transparency between consumers and the products they use and consume,” says Ronak Sheth, Chief Customer Officer of Label Insight. “We are proud to participate in this initiative to support public access to detailed nutrient and ingredient information.”