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FoodData Central Foundation Foods Documentation

FoodData Central Foundation Foods Documentation

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U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center 10300 Baltimore Avenue RM. 111, BLDG. 307C, BARC-EAST Beltsville, Maryland 20705

Suggested Citation

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central: Foundation Foods. Version Current: April 2024. Internet:


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Preface - FoodData Central is USDA's comprehensive source of food composition data with multiple distinct data types.

The food supply is increasing at an incredible rate as are the changes in the composition of agricultural commodities and processed foods. In addition, the scientific understanding of relationships between dietary intakes and health have accelerated placing new demands on the levels of knowledge required of foods and their components. These demands have increased the need for transparent and easily accessible information about nutrients and other food components.

USDA's food composition data resources are evolving to meet the compositional demands and the needs of an increasingly diverse user base, including researchers, policy makers, nutrition and health professionals, and product developers. This necessitated the development and release of FoodData Central in 2019. FoodData Central provides a web-based data system that is composed of five distinct types of food and nutrient composition data, each with a unique purpose and acquired with different approaches.

  • Foundation Foods includes values for nutrients and other food components for a diverse range of basic foods (unprocessed or lightly processed foods) and provides extensive underlying metadata, including the number of samples, sampling location, date of collection, analytical approaches used, and if appropriate, agricultural information such as genotype and production practices. The enhanced depth and transparency of Foundation Foods data can provide valuable insights into the many factors that influence variability in food component profiles. Over time, the number of foods in Foundation Foods will expand. Foundation Foods will be a primary focus of efforts in coming years.
  • SR Legacy was the primary food composition database in the United States for decades. It provides a comprehensive list of values for food components derived from analyses, imputations, and the published literature. These data have provided the values for most other public and private food composition databases and has supported a wide range of public policy initiatives, research studies, and diet planning and educational activities. SR Legacy, released in April 2018, is the final release of this data type and will not be updated. More recent analytical data are available in Foundation Foods and more recent branded label data are available in Branded Foods.
  • Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies 2019-2020 (FNDDS 2019-2020) provides nutrient and food component values for the foods and beverages reported in What We Eat in America, the dietary intake component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). FNDDS data releases correspond to the NHANES two-year data cycles. FNDDS data facilitate analyses of dietary intakes reported in NHANES as well as many other dietary research studies. These data are derived from the Foundation Food and SR Legacy databases.
  • Experimental Foods contains data on foods published in peer-reviewed journals, supported by or in collaboration with USDA. The foods may be produced, acquired or studied under unique conditions, such as alternative management systems, experimental genotypes, or research/analytical protocols. Use of these data should be considered in the context under which the data were collected. These data will allow users to examine a range of factors that may affect the nutritional/bioactive profiles of foods and resulting dietary intakes as well as the sustainability of agricultural and dietary food systems.
  • The USDA Global Branded Food Products Database (Branded Foods) contains data from a public-private partnership whose goal is to enhance the open sharing of nutrient data that appear on branded and private label foods and are provided by the food industry. Members of this partnership are:
    • ARS LogoAgricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA
    • IAFNS logoInstitute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS)
    • GS1 US logoGS1 US
    • 1WorldSync logo1WorldSync
    • UMD logoUniversity of Maryland, Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
    Information in Branded Foods is received from food industry data providers. USDA supports this data type by standardizing the presentation of the data. Branded Foods data are used in a variety of ways, including research studies, food label regulatory efforts, and product development. Data in Branded Foods are updated monthly and made available through the API. In addition, downloads for Branded Foods are generated every six months, and reflect the most up-to-date version of each product at the time the download is generated.


About Foundation Foods Found in FoodData Central

Foundation Foods is a new food composition data type in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) FoodData Central system. Foundation Foods contains expanded nutrient and food component profiles and metadata on a range of foods and ingredients. The data include the individual data points behind the mean values and metadata that include the number of samples, location, dates on which samples were obtained, analytical methods used, and, if appropriate, agricultural information such as cultivar and production practices. The enhanced clarity and transparency of these data allow users to see the variability in the nutrient and food component values provided as well as the potential effects of the production site, procedures, season, climate, post-harvest processing, analytical methods, and other factors. Some of the data have been acquired through the historical National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program (NFNAP) (Haytowitz and Pehrsson, 2017). Other data will be from market and/or agriculturally acquired foods. The goal of Foundation Foods will be to expand, over time, the number of basic foods and ingredients and their underlying data.

Foundation Foods Highlights

Updated Nutrient Profiles

Macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) are the energy sources in the human diet. The inaugural version of Foundation Foods included 73 foods that appear in the final release of the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR Legacy). Since then, new acquisitions are added to Foundation Foods on a regular basis. Nutrient profiles will now be focused on variability of individual samples and not weighted by market share. All individual sample analysis is available in FoodData Central.

Expanded Information on Foods

A key feature of Foundation Foods is the ability to see the specific values associated with each independent sample and hence the variability of the analyzed values for each component. For samples obtained at retail locations, Foundation Foods contains metadata on sample acquisition, including city and state of purchase or manufacture, purchase date, expiration date (if applicable), product lot number, and UPC code (when available). For samples obtained from agricultural locations, metadata include information such as location (GPS coordinates), cultivar, weather, agricultural practices (e.g., conventional or organic farming), and analytical methodology.

For SRLegacy, aliquots from composited samples were sent to USDA qualified laboratories and collaborators for analysis. Although this approach generated useable mean values, sample-to-sample variability was lost.

Therefore, the generated statistical parameters reflected the variability of the analytical samples, not the individual samples composited for analysis. Historically, the goal of the analyses was to generate a reliable mean across up to 150 nutrients for highly consumed foods (per the NHANES What We Eat in America surveys) that reflected the composition the consumer was statistically likely to encounter and were re. Moving forward, newer data as well as future data will be reported for independent samples analyzed from a single acquisition. In some cases, multiple sales units from the same location may be needed to supply sufficient material for analysis. These will be treated as a single independent sample.

Details on Information in Foundation Foods

The data for Foundation Foods are organized into three major categories: Food Descriptions, Nutrient Data, and Weights. These reflect the earlier approach to providing nutrient profile data but may change as Foundation Foods evolves. In addition, support files are included that contain supplemental information related to these categories. File formats and related information are contained in the Download Field Descriptions, available on the FDC Downloads Page. Abbreviations used in describing Foundation Foods are listed in Appendix B.

Data for agricultural products may be presented in forms not typically consumed but still representative of foods in the U.S. food supply. For example, data for common dry beans of different cultivars, growing locations, and climate conditions are presented on a 0% moisture basis rather than as sold.

Food Descriptions

The Food Descriptions category provides a full description of each food, including the name of the food, the brand name (if applicable), as well as the food's characteristics (e.g., raw or cooked, enriched or not, and color). Other fields in the Food Description file include:

  • Scientific name.
  • Common name, including alternative names for the product (e.g., dried beans), Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standard identification numbers, and USDA commodity codes as appropriate.
  • Identification of food groups (see the Download Field Descriptions for more details) based on assignments in SR Legacy. These groupings are currently maintained to provide historical reference and continuity. It is anticipated that a current investigation in the area of ontology will result in changes in the food grouping systems.
  • Amounts and physical descriptions, where appropriate, of refuse (inedible materials, such as seeds, bone, and skin). Refuse amounts are expressed as a percentage of the total weight of the item as acquired and are used to compute the weight of the edible portion. Most of the refuse data are obtained from measurements made for NFNAP samples.
  • Factor used to calculate protein content from nitrogen content.
  • Factors used to calculate number of kilocalories (kcal) from protein, fat, and carbohydrate, by difference.
  • Footnotes are provided for a few items where information about food description could not be accommodated in existing fields.

Nutrient Data

All nutrient values in Foundation Foods are based on analyses conducted by USDA under NFNAP or provided by other USDA units or external organizations. New Foundation Foods, as opposed to those pulled from SR, will not have all nutrients but will be targeting important nutrients in that food.

A unique code or FDC_ID number identifies individual samples for each food contained in each of the data types. Currently, an FDC_ID number is assigned randomly when new or updated versions of foods are published in FoodData Central. However, when market and agricultural acquisition foods are presented through a Foundation Food, their FDC_IDs are labeled as FDC Source ID to better distinguish them as sources for the current Foundation Food. The structure of this information is described in Download Field Descriptions. Details on each of these analyses can be accessed through the documentation available with each dataset's download or through the "drill-down" capabilities (i.e., the ability to move from general information about a food to more detailed information) on the FoodData Central web site. In some cases, foods analyzed for or before SR Legacy may also appear in Foundation Foods. For connectivity with SR Legacy foods, static NDB numbers will also appear as appropriate.

The raw analytical data are stored internally, as received. Before publishing to the public, they are rounded to scientifically appropriate significant figures, allowing ease in downloading, API, and data display.

The source values, including protein, fat, and carbohydrates for energy, nitrogen for protein, and individual carotenoids and retinol for vitamin A, are stored in the data files to allow calculation of other nutrients and may have more significant digits than are presented in the reports and data files. A similar situation occurs when kilojoules (kJ) are calculated from kcal. Therefore, small rounding errors may occur.

Foundation Foods does not provide data on all nutrients. This is because of the uniqueness of the data:

  • Some nutrients are not found in certain foods (e.g., cholesterol in plant foods, protein in oils).
  • Some nutrients in a food have not yet been analyzed. Data analyses are continually conducted and as data on nutrients are obtained, values will be added to food profiles.

"Proximate component" refers to the following macronutrients: water (moisture), protein, total lipid (fat), total carbohydrate, and ash. Except for a few food items, nutrient profiles contain values for the proximate components and at least one other nutrient.

The values for protein are calculated from the amount of total nitrogen in the food using the nitrogen- to-protein conversion factors recommended by Jones (1941) for most food items. The factor applied to each food item is provided in the NFactor field in the Food Description table. If a specific factor is not available, the default value of 6.25 is used for the nitrogen-to-protein conversion factor. Protein values in Foundation Foods are now listed as "calculated." This differs from the approach taken in SR Legacy, which denotes protein as "analytical."

Total lipid values used on food labels represent the amount of triglyceride that would produce the amount of lipid fatty acids determined using gas chromatography, as required by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA). The term "NLEA fat" is commonly used to refer to total fatty acids expressed as triglycerides.

Carbohydrate content, referred to as "carbohydrate by difference" in the tables, is expressed as the

difference between 100 and the sum of the percentages of water, protein, total lipid (fat), ash, and alcohol (when present). Values for carbohydrate by difference include total dietary fiber content. "Sugars, total NLEA" refers to the sum of the values for individual monosaccharides (galactose, glucose, and fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, and maltose), which are those sugars analyzed for nutrition labelling. Because the analyses of total dietary fiber, total sugars, and starch content are conducted separately and reflect the analytical variability inherent in the measurement process, the sum of these carbohydrate fractions may not equal the carbohydrate-by-difference value or may even exceed it.


Food energy is expressed in kcal and is no longer expressed in kJ as of October 2020. The data represent physiologically available energy, which is the value remaining after digestive and urinary losses are deducted from gross energy (Merrill and Watt, 1973). Energy values are calculated when fat and protein values are available for a food. Carbohydrate content, referred to as "carbohydrate by difference" in the tables, is expressed as the difference between 100 and the sum of the percentages of water, protein, total lipid (fat), ash, and alcohol (when present). Energy values on food labels may or may not include fiber in the carbohydrate and energy calculations because manufacturers have that option when reporting on labels. However, for Foundation Foods, fiber is often included in carbohydrate and energy distinctions when carbohydrate by difference is calculated.

Most energy values are calculated using the Atwater general factors of 4, 9, and 4 for protein, fat, and carbohydrates, respectively. These general calculations are represented in FoodData Central as "Metabolizable Energy (Atwater General Factor)" and is identified in download files and API with nutrient ID: 2047.

Other energy values are calculated using Atwater specific factors per food as outlined in the USDA Handbook 74. These specific calculations are represented in FoodData Central as "Metabolizable Energy (Atwater Specific Factor)" and is identified in download and API with nutrient ID: 2048.

In October 2020, energy values represented by "Energy", represented in the download and API with ID:1008, will no longer display in FoodData Central's Foundation Foods, but will continue to display for the other food data types. In the database, this representation will continue to exist for previous API applications that require the field to function. API developers should work to implement the new Energy specifications.


Individual values for mineral data are reported in the database and include boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulfur, and zinc. In other cases, such as the values for fluoride, selenium, and other minerals in NFNAP, samples for drinking water, select beverages, and grain-based products, respectively, regional and national averages are presented and should be used as such, as concentrations in local foods and beverages may vary widely.


Vitamins reported in the database include ascorbic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, choline, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Many of the values were obtained in small sample sizes, often of composited samples.


Foundation Foods currently provides folate values in micrograms (μg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFEs), and, in some cases, total folate. Future FoodData Central updates may present different forms of folate, including folic acid, food folate, and total folate, for some foods. Foundation Foods' DFEs are provided in accordance with the Institute of Medicine (IOM's) Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline report (IOM, 1998). DFE concentrations differ from total folate concentrations only for foods containing synthetic folic acid added for enrichment or fortification. The calculation of DFEs reflects the greater bioavailability of synthetic folic acid than of naturally occurring food folate. To calculate DFEs for any single food, separate values are needed for naturally occurring food folate and added synthetic folic acid. The calculation is as follows:

μg DFE = μg food folate + (1.7 x μg folic acid)


Total choline, free choline (Cho), glycerophosphocholine (GPC), phosphocholine (PCho), phosphatidylcholine (PtdCho), and sphingomyelin (SM) from releases 1 and 2 of the USDA Database for the Choline Content of Common Foods (USDA, 2008) as well as newer values determined since the publication of those tables have been incorporated into Foundation Foods. Because metabolic pathways exist for the interconversion of Cho, GPC, PCho, PtdCho, and SM, total choline content is defined as the sum of the contents of these choline-contributing metabolites. Betaine values are not included in the calculation of total choline because the conversion of choline to betaine is irreversible (Zeisel et al., 2003).

Vitamin A

Values for vitamin A in μg of retinolic acid equivalents (RAEs) and μg of retinol are reported. One μg RAE is equivalent to 1 μg all- trans-retinol, 12 μg all-trans-β-carotene, or 24 μg other provitamin A carotenoids. Vitamin A activity values in RAE are calculated from the content of retinol and individual carotenoids (β-carotene, α-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin) using well-established factors (IOM, 2001). Content of individual carotenoids (β-carotene, α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and lutein plus zeaxanthin) is reported in Foundation Foods.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D values in Foundation Foods are provided in micrograms. The biological activity of vitamin D is 40 international units per microgram (IU/μg). Where available, values for specific isomers of vitamin D are reported, but only in μg. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3,) is the form that is naturally present in animal products and most commonly added to fortified foods. Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) is the form found in plants and is added to some fortified foods, such as soy milk. In Foundation Foods, vitamin D content is the sum of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 concentrations. Vitamin D may also be present as 25- hydroxycholecalciferol in some foods, such as fish, meat, and poultry, and this value is reported when analytical data is available. The biological activity of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol has not been definitively determined, so it is not included in calculations of total vitamin D activity.

Vitamin E

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids report (IOM, 2000) defines vitamin E as the naturally occurring form (RRR-α-tocopherol) and three synthetic forms of α-tocopherol. Foundation Foods provides vitamin E values in mg of α-tocopherol (nutrient 323) in accordance with this DRI report. Although β-, γ-, and δ-tocopherol do not contribute to vitamin E activity, they are included in -Foundation Foods when analytical data are available.

Vitamin K

Data on vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), dihydrophylloquinone, and menaquinone-4 are presented individually in Foundation Foods. Dihydrophylloquinone is a form of vitamin K that is created during the commercial hydrogenation of plant oils. Menaquinone-4 is formed from vitamin K1 and/or the synthetic form of vitamin K in animal feed and is found primarily in meats and meat products.

Lipid Components

Fatty acid values are expressed in g per 100 g of food. Logically, the sum of the fatty acids may not add up to the value for total lipid. Total lipid values used on food labels represent the amount of triglyceride that would produce the amount of lipid fatty acids determined using gas chromatography, as required by the NLEA.

The basic format for describing individual fatty acids is that the number before the colon indicates the number of carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain, and the number after the colon indicates the number of double bonds. For unsaturated fatty acids, additional nutrient numbers have been added to accommodate the reporting of many specific positional and geometric isomers. Of the specific isomers, two basic classifications are considered: omega double bond position and cis/trans configuration of double bonds.

Omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) isomers are denoted in shorthand nomenclature as n-3 and n-6. The n- number indicates the position of the first double bond from the methyl end of the carbon chain. The letter c indicates a cis bond, and the letter t indicates a trans bond. For polyunsaturated fatty acids, cis and trans configurations at successive double bonds may be indicated. For example, linoleic acid is an 18-carbon omega-6 fatty acid with two double bonds, both in cis configuration. When data are isomer specific, linoleic acid is described as 18:2 n-6 c,c. Other isomers of 18:2, for which nutrient numbers have now been assigned, include 18:2 c,t, 18:2 t,c, 18:2 t,t, 18:2 t not further defined, and 18:2 i. 18:2 i is not a single isomer but includes isomers other than 18:2 n-6 c,c with peaks that cannot be easily differentiated in the particular food item. Systematic and common names for fatty acids are provided in Table 1.

Table 1. Systematic and Common Names for Fatty Acids

Systematic and Common Names for Fatty Acids

Fatty acid

Systematic name

Common name of most frequent isomer

Saturated fatty acids


butanoic acid

butyric acid


hexanoic acid

caproic acid


octanoic acid

caprylic acid


decanoic acid

capric acid


dodecanoic acid

lauric acid


tridecanoic acid


tetradecanoic acid

myristic acid


pentadecanoic acid


hexadecenoic acid

palmitic acid


heptadecanoic acid

margaric acid


octadecanoic acid

stearic acid


eicosanoic acid

arachidic acid


docosanoic acid

behenic acid


tetracosanoic acid

lignoceric acid

Monounsaturated fatty acids


9Z-tetradecenoic acid

myristoleic acid


pentadecanoic acid

16:1 undifferentiated

hexadecenoic acid

16:1 cis*

9Z-hexadecenoic acid

palmitoleic acid


heptadecenoic acid

18:1 undifferentiated

octadecenoic acid

18:1 cis*

9Z-octadecenoic acid

oleic acid


11Z-eicosenoic acid

gondoic acid

22:1 undifferentiated

docosenoic acid

22:1 cis*

13Z-docosenoic acid

erucic acid

24:1 cis

15Z-tetracosenoic acid

nervonic acid

Fatty acid

Systematic name

Common name of most frequent isomer

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

18:2 undifferentiated

octadecadienoic acid

18:2 i (mixed isomers)

octadecadienoic acid

18:2 n-6 cis, cis*


linoleic acid

18:2 conjugated linoleic acid

octadecadienoic acid

18:3 undifferentiated

octadecatrienoic acid

18:3 n-3 cis, cis, cis*


α-linolenic acid

18:3 n-6 cis, cis, cis


γ-linolenic acid

18:3 i (mixed isomers)

octadecatrienoic acid



stearidonic acid

20:2 n-6 cis, cis

eicosadienoic acid

20:3 undifferentiated

eicosatrienoic acid

20:3 n-3

eicosatrienoic acid

20:3 n-6

eicosatrienoic acid

20:4 undifferentiated

eicosatetraenoic acid

20:4 n-6*


arachidonic acid

20:5 n-3


eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)




adrenic acid

22:5 n-3

docosapentaenoic acid

22:6 n-3

-docosahexaenoic acid

docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Trans fatty acids

Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic

16:1 trans

9E-hexadecenoic acid

palmitelaidic acid

18:1 trans

9E-octadecenoic acid

elaidic acid

22:1 trans

13E-docosenoic acid

brassidic acid

Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic

18:2 trans not further defined

octadecadienoic acid

18:2 trans, trans

-octadecadienoic acid

linoelaidic acid

* Indicates major isomer characterized by AOAC method

** Indicates two or more isomers known, but not differentiated by AOAC method.

It is not possible to include every possible geometric and positional isomer in the database. Where specific isomers exist for a fatty acid, the common name of the most frequent isomer is listed for the undifferentiated fatty acid and an asterisk (*) designates the isomer to which that name applies. For example, the most frequent isomer for 18:1 is oleic acid. Therefore, undifferentiated 18:1 is designated in Table 1 as oleic acid, and the asterisk indicates that the common name for 18:1, oleic acid, only applies to this isomer.

Because cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin, cholesterol values are provided only for foods of animal origin and foods containing at least one ingredient of animal origin.


Portions are provided in grams for edible material without refuse (i.e., the edible portion of the food), such as an apple without the core or stem or a chicken leg without the bone. All reported values are based on a 100-gram or percent basis of the edible portion. Also provided for some foods is information on portion sizes (e.g., 1 cup, 1 tablespoon, 1 fruit, or 1 leg).

Although FoodData Central does not contain a way to automatically modify portion sizes and thus nutrient values, this functionality is available in the What's in the Foods You Eat search tool, located on the Food Surveys Research Group website. The Measurement Conversion Tables located on the Methods and Application of Food Composition Laboratory website provide a listing of measurements and their equivalents commonly used for food and beverages. The weights are determined from samples acquired as part of NFNAP. It should be noted that portions and weight are unique to each data type in FoodData Central—Foundation Foods, Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS), SR Legacy, and USDA Global Branded Food Products Database. In some cases, there may be many more determinations of portion sizes than there are of the nutrient analyses. Portions for specific foods are displayed in the measure tab on the FoodData Central website or in the food portion file in the download files; the format of this file is described in the Download Field Descriptions.

The gram weights in the food portion file can be used to calculate nutrient values for food portions from the values provided per 100 g of food. The following formula is used to calculate the nutrient content per portion:

N = (V*W)/100;


N = nutrient value per portion size,

V = nutrient value per 100 g (Nutr_Val in the Nutrient Data file), and W = weight (in g) of portion (Gm_Wgt in the Weight file).

Limits of Quantification

Limit of Quantification (LOQ) is the lowest amount of measure in a sample that can be quantitatively determined with acceptable precision and accuracy. In FoodData Central, LOQ values are represented with less than (<) values. LOQ values may not be available for component values in older Foundation Foods. Calculations performed such as component totals and statistical averages use zero to calculate results. In addition, unavailable LOQ values may be reported as zeros.

In the download files and API, a new field has been added for LOQ values. LOQ values are stored as numbers and component values are stored as 0. For example: an LOQ of <0.03 is stored in the LOQ field as 0.03 and in the component value field as 0.

Reports and Data Files

Foundation Food Search Results

Using the FoodData Central search program (, users can look up the nutrient content of any food in Foundation Foods as well as those in SR Legacy, FNDDS, and the USDA Global Branded Food Products Database. Foods may be selected by key terms, such as nutrient name, food name, NDB# (in SR Legacy), FDC_ID number, or brand (in USDA Global Branded Foods Database). Searches can be made more precise by using search operators. For more information see the FoodData Central's Help Page.

An application program interface (API) is also available for developers to use to access the database with their own applications. They can be assured that they are linking to the most up-to-date version of the database. Details on using the API are provided on the FoodData Central web site (

Overview of Data Tables

The data files for Foundation Foods are available from the FoodData Central web site ( in ASCII (ISO/IEC 8859-1), and JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)

Descriptions of each field in these tables and the relationships between them are contained in the Download Field Description, available on the FDC Downloads Page


Haytowitz DB and Pehrsson PR. USDA's National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program (NFNAP) produces high-quality data for USDA food composition databases: Two decades of collaboration. Food Chemistry 2018;238:134-138. Available at: Accessed November 8, 2019.

Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.

Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2000.

Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum. Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.

Merrill AL, Watt BK. Energy value of foods: basis and derivation, revised. Agriculture Handbook

74. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 1973.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA Database for the Choline Content of Common Foods. Release 2; 2008. Available at: Accessed January 4, 2019.

Zeisel SH, Mar MH, Howe JC, Holden JM. Concentrations of choline-containing compounds and betaine in common foods. Journal of Nutrition. 2003;133(5):1302-1307.