Navigating the way to good food choices in the shopping aisle can be a challenge. Detailed information about the nutritional value of New Zealand foods, beyond what is available on a food label, has not always been easy to find. And, if you are wondering what foods are most searched for, the top five are bananas, almonds, Braeburn apples, carrots and dried apricots.
Making this challenge easier, the new and improved New Zealand Food Composition Database (NZFCD) is increasingly becoming a go-to resource for professionals, educators and consumers looking for a reliable source of up-to-date nutrient data for New Zealand foods.
Over the past year, more people have discovered the NZFCD – thanks to the enhanced search functionality and the addition of data on free and added sugars. Website visits increased by 46% and page views increased 79% over the past year.
The NZFCD is the most comprehensive collection of nutrition data for over 2,700 commonly-consumed New Zealand foods and provides reliable data on macronutrients (like carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fibre) and micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals).
Last year (in collaboration with Otago University) free and added sugar data was added to the NZFCD. A healthy eating pattern with a diet that is low in added sugars contributes to a lower risk of excess body weight and related non-communicable diseases. The Ministry of Health recommends choosing or preparing foods and drinks with little or no added sugar.
“Being able to find out how much sugar has been added during processing is really important for guiding good food choices,” says Dr Carolyn Lister, Team Leader Food & Health Information at Plant & Food Research.
Around 100 new or updated food records are added to the NZFCD every year with food analysis conducted by accredited laboratories in New Zealand and Australia.
The new search interface was built with mobile users in mind, however, according to Allan Main from the Food Innovation Portfolio at Plant & Food Research, most users access data from their desktop. “This suggests they may be in an office environment, accessing data in a purpose-driven way, rather than just casually browsing,” he says. “However, around 21% of people also access the data via smartphone.”
Users can search for a single food or compare up to three foods in a side-by-side comparison. They can also choose the level of detail – from a simple nutrient information panel to a detailed breakdown with up to 363 components. For those used to the old downloadable formats (New Zealand FOODfiles™ and the Concise NZ Food Composition Tables), these are still available on the site.
The NZFCD data is jointly owned by Plant & Food Research, who manage and maintain the resource, and the New Zealand Ministry of Health, the major funder.