Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 21 (2008) S119–S124
Quality control procedures for the USDA Food and Nutrient Database
for Dietary Studies nutrient values
Jaspreet K.C. Ahuja
, Betty P. Perloff
USDA-ARS, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
Received 20 December 2006; received in revised form 15 May 2007; accepted 31 May 2007
Accurate dietary assessment depends on a high-quality food and nutrient database. While much progress has been made in the quality
of analytical nutrient data, the area of database quality control remains largely uncovered. Increased automation of database
maintenance and update processes necessitates stringent quality control procedures. A detailed quality control (QC) plan has advanced
over the years and is in place for the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) nutrient values ﬁle. Multiple checks are
performed for all new and revised data at different steps of the update process to ensure integrity and accuracy in the database. Based on
the purpose of the checks, they are grouped into three categories: nutrient integrity checks, database integrity checks, and database
validation checks. Details of the QC checks used for the FNDDS nutrient values ﬁle and features of the QC system are given. This
information can be helpful for managers responsible for maintaining nutrient databases, and discussions on this topic may stimulate
development of systems to ensure integrity and accuracy in nutrient databases.
Published by Elsevier Inc.
Keywords: Quality control; Database management; Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies; FNDDS
Reliable dietary intake estimates depend on a high-quality
nutrient database (Burlingame, 2003). In recent years,
considerable attention has been paid to improve the quality
of data on the nutritional composition of foods. New and
better methods for laboratory analyses have been developed,
and protocols for the critical evaluation of nutrient data have
been established (Holden et al., 2002). Furthermore, the
National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program has resulted
in reliable, nationally representative data on the nutritional
composition of many key foods in the American diet
(Haytowitz et al., 2002). However, while much has been
done to improve the quality of analytical values, the area of
database quality control remains largely uncovered. The last
published literature available on this topic dates back to the
1980s (Murphy, 1986, 1989; Buzzard et al., 1986). Since that
time database preparation has become more automated, and
comprehensive quality control routines built into these
automated procedures help ensure the integrity and accuracy
of the food and nutrient databases.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies
(FNDDS) is a database of foods, their nutrient values,
and weights for typical food portions consumed by the US
population (USDA, 2006). Its main purpose is to provide
code foods and portion sizes to allow for the determination
of nutrient intakes for participants in What We Eat in
America, the dietary interview component of the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Other applications of the database include MyPyramid
Tracker (USDA, 2005b) and the National Cancer Insti-
tute’s Diet History Questionnaire (Dixon et al., 2003). This
paper describes the quality control (QC) procedures for the
nutrient values in the FNDDS.
2. Overview of the USDA’S FNDDS
The FNDDS contains information about foods as they
are consumed by the US population. It includes food
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E-mail address: Jaspreet.Ahuja@ars.usda.gov (J.K.C. Ahuja).