New searchable UK composition of foods website available
Food Databanks, in collaboration with Public Health England, has launched a new UK Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset (CoFID) searchable website (https://quadram.ac.uk/UKfoodcomposition).
“I’m delighted that the dataset is now fully searchable online, as it makes it even more available than ever before. We hope that users find the new format a useful way to access the data they need” said Paul Finglas, Head of the Food Databanks team at the Quadram Institute, which is strategically supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
The website allows users to search the current McCance and Widdowson dataset. First published in book form in 1940, CoFID contains reference data on the levels of nutrients in thousands of the most commonly eaten foods in the UK.
The data underpins research that informs dietary policy, such as the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which monitors UK intake of calories, salt, unsaturated fat and other nutrients. Dietitians rely on it for meal planning and assessing patients’ nutrient intakes, and it is also widely used by the food industry in developing or reformulating products, especially in response to regulatory changes or voluntary efforts designed to make foods healthier.
The latest dataset, published in March 2019, includes updates based on the 2015 nutrient analysis survey of fresh and processed fruit and vegetables with respect to fibre and additional data from elsewhere. Errors found in the previous dataset have been corrected. All other values remain unchanged from CoFID 2015. A link to the new dataset in Excel version can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid.
The new searchable website for CoFID was commissioned following feedback from users, particularly the general public, who requested a way of easily accessing nutritional information for particular foods.
Prior to the launch of the tool, users needed to download and manually search through the full Excel dataset. The new web tool allows users to enter search terms related to the food of interest and the website returns a list of relevant foods, showing the food code, name and key nutrient values (energy, fat, water, carbohydrates, sugars, protein). Clicking on an item from the list opens a detailed page for the food giving all the available nutrient values.
The individual food page also includes comments on key nutrient values, such as the origin of the data, and is the first time that this information has been available to the end user. This function is particularly useful for researchers, academics and clinicians who may need to assess how suitable the values are for their intended use.
Initially, the data was only available as a printed volume, with the first edition published in 1940. Several further editions followed this before a range of supplements (e.g. Milk Products and Eggs) were published to allow users to access the vast amount of data collected. Since 2008, CoFID has been available online in Excel format as a single consolidated dataset.