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Key Foods

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The Nutrient Data Laboratory is responsible for developing authoritative nutrient data bases that contain a wide range of food composition values of the nation's food supply. This requires, in addition to other activities, updating and revising the USDA Nutrient Data Base for Standard Reference, the machine-readable counterpart to Agriculture Handbook No. 8, and supplying nutrient values for the Nationwide Food Surveys. However, with almost 6,000 food items in the data base and a complete nutrient profile costing approximately $2,000 for one sample, analyzing every food item for every nutrient and meeting user requirements is impossible. Consequently, priorities must be determined. Procedures using food consumption data and nutrient values for developing the Key Foods list are explained. Key Foods have been identified as those food components that contribute up to 75% of any one nutrient.  These Key Foods will be used to set priorities for nutrient analyses under the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program.

A full description of the procedure for developing the Key Foods list is contained in the following article:

D. B. Haytowitz, P. R. Pehrsson, J. M. Holden. 2002. The Identification of Key Foods for Food Composition Research. J. Food Comp. Anal. 15(2):183-194.  Appendix A

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Last Modified: July 08, 2002