Food Composition Explained

– Fernanda Grande, PhD –

Select appropriate data

Learn about Food Composition Data principles to be able to choose high-quality and appropriate data for different purposes.

Create or update databases

Improve your knowledge of food composition to prepare high-quality databases, according to international standards and guidelines.

Download tools and documents

Access tools for data management and collections of documents of great relevance for food composition data compilers.

About us

Food Composition Explained was created by Fernanda Grande in 2020 to share knowledge and experiences on this topic with both data users and compilers. The content provided is based on publications, standards and guidelines stablished by the International Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS).

Who am I?

Experienced Nutritionist working as a food composition data compiler for more than ten years. Consultant on Food Composition since 2015 at Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). PhD in Sciences by the University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil. Food composition skills include elaboration, management and use of food composition data in compliance with international standards. 

My experience

  • Contribution to eight published food composition tables/databases
  • Contribution to two FAO/INFOODS guidelines
  • Eight published scientific articles
  • Three book chapters
  • Several oral presentations at international conferences and meetings
  • Training several staff members, including  an official FAO/INFOODS training

Explore content

Learn why food composition data are so important and how food composition tables and databases should be developed and used.

This section describes the definitions and issues related to the  components presented in food composition tables or databases.

Find out the principles of recipe calculation and how to use a template to perform the appropriate procedure.

List of Food Composition Tables and Databases available free-of-charge for download in Excel format.

Basic Principles

Play Video

Understand the importance of food composition and why you should learn more about this topic.

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Figure out how FCTs/FCDBs are created regarding the different types of data that are used.

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Definition of food matching and the FAO/INFOODS Guidelines for Food Matching

Download guideline

Play Video

Component identification and how the INFOODS component identifiers (tagnames) can allow for a precise description.

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How to manage food composition data, since the original analytical values until the final user database.

Recommended websites

  • International Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS) (link)
  • European Food Information Resource (EuroFIR) (link)
  • FAO/INFOODS e-learning Course on Food Composition Data, 2013 (link)
  • Compilers’ Toolbox prepared by Anders Møller, Danish Food Informatics (link)

Recommended references and videos

  • Food Composition Data: Production, Management and Use (available in English, Spanish and French) (link)
  • FAO/INFOODS Study Guide: Exercises, volume 1 (link) Answers, volume 2 (link)
  • FAO/INFOODS webinar in data quality of food composition tables (link)
  • FAO/INFOODS webinar on analytical methods on fat and fatty acids (link)
  • FAO/INFOODS webinar on food matching (link)
  • Compilation tool version 1.2.1 (FAO/INFOODS) and user guidelines (link)

Components included in food composition tables and databases

Play Video

Definition and relevance of edible/inedible portion, what we need to consider when selecting it and where to find this information.

Recommended references

  • FAO/INFOODS Compilation tool version 1.2.1 (link)
  • FAO/INFOODS Standards and Guidelines (link)

Recipe Calculation

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Basic principles of recipe calculation and the steps for calculating the nutrient content of multi-ingredient recipes.

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Learn how you can use the Excel template to make your recipe calculations with a practical example. 

Play Video

Theory and practice in calculating nutrient values of cooked foods and mixed dishes according to FAO/INFOODS standards.

Do you want to receive by email the Recipe Calculation Template in Excel?

Fill out the form and you will receive an email with the link to download the excel file.

Recommended references

  • FAO/INFOODS e-learning Course on Food Composition Data, 2013 (Unit 5, Lesson 5.2 Recipe Calculation) (link)
  • Vásquez-Caicedo A.L, Bell S. and Hartmann, B. Report on collection of rules on use of recipe calculation procedures including the use of yield and retention factors for imputing nutrient values for composite foods. 2008. (PDF)
  • Bognár A. Tables on weight yield of food and retention factors of food constituents for the calculation of nutrient composition of cooked foods (dishes). 2002. (PDF)
  • Bergström L. Nutrient losses and gains in preparation of foods. National Food Administration, Sweds. 1994. (PDF)
  • Matthews R.H. and Garrison Y.J. Food Yields Summarized by Different Stages of Preparation. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Agriculture Handbook No. 102: Washington, D.C., revised September 1975. (PDF)
  • EuroFIR Guideline on calculation of nutrient content of foods for food business operators (link)

Food Composition Tables and Databases

Food Composition Tables and Databases listed below are available for download free-of-charge in Excel format facilitating data usage:


Australian Food Composition Database, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (link)


Tabela Brasileira de Composição de Alimentos (TACO), NEPA/Unicamp (link)


Frida, DTU Foods public food database, version 4, 2019, National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark (link)


ANES-CIQUAL French Food Composition Table, French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (link)


FAO/INFOODS Food Composition Databases (link)


Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan (link)


Kenya Food Composition Tables, FAO/Government of Kenya (link)


Dutch Food Composition Database (NEVO), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (link)

New Zealand

New Zealand Food Composition Database, New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Lim. and Ministry of Health. (link)


Tabela da Composição de Alimentos (PortFIR), Instituto Nacional de Saúde Doutor Ricardo Jorge. (link)


Swedish Food Composition Database, Swedish Food Agency. (link)


Swiss Food Composition Database, Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office. (link)

United Kingdom

McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods integrated dataset, Public Health England. (link)

United States of America

Food Data Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (link)

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Food Composition Explained. Copyright © 2020 Fernanda Grande. All rights reserved. 

The content of this website is continuously reviewed and updated.

Last update 02.06.2021