- USDA debuted the USDA Branded Food Products Database, a free online resource for both consumers and the food and beverage industry, at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Summit last week.
- The database lists nutrition-related information for more than 80,000 name brand packaged and prepared foods sold at grocery stores and restaurants.
- It offers another option to improve transparency in the food and beverage industry while providing consumers with the information they want about the products they buy.
The database is a significant expansion of the USDA National Nutrient Database, which contained information about almost 9,000 products. But the agency plans to expand it further to up to 500,000 products and even more details included in the Nutrition Facts panel. As consumers demand more information about food and beverage products, this database could be a key industry tool for manufacturers to communicate with consumers.
However, the database may also make information that manufacturers don’t want highlighted more accessible to consumers. Along with the new Nutrition Facts panel comes required product characteristics like disclosure of added sugar.
The database is the result of a partnership between the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the International Life Sciences Institute North America, GS1 US, 1WorldSync and Label Insight. Label Insight has participated in other transparency efforts, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s SmartLabel initiative.
Because the USDA is currently determining the parameters surrounding mandatory GMO labeling, it wouldn’t be surprising if this initiative somehow complements the transparency of SmartLabel and other GMO labeling efforts in the coming years.