Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Issues in the development and use of food composition databases

Prapasri Puwastiena1 c1

a1 Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University at Salaya, Phuttamonthon 4, Nakorn Pathom 73170, Thailand


Objectives: To share experience on the development of national and regional food composition tables (FCTs) and the issues and problems involved.

Design: Food composition data analysed at national and regional levels were compiled. Systematic development of FCTs detailing specific criteria and characteristics following the INFOODS and ASEANFOODS guidelines was conducted.

Setting: The national FCT was developed using the Thai FCT as a study model. For the regional level, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) FCT was developed.

Subjects: About 3000 analysed datasets of about 1000 food items on proximate composition, minerals, vitamins and other available components from various sources in Thailand and about 4500 analysed datasets of 1700 food items on the same components from various countries in ASEAN were compiled. The national and regional FCTs were then developed systematically.

Results: The developed Thai FCT contains 24 nutrients of 1055 food items and the ASEAN FCT contains 21 nutrients of about 1740 food items. Issues and problems regarding the development and use of national and regional food composition data are listed.

Conclusion: Food composition databases have become increasingly important in the international health arena. Systematic compilation of the data is necessary and the use of INFOODS tag names is strongly recommended. This is to indicate the methods of nutrient analysis and calculation, and to facilitate international and regional data interchange. Users are also recommended to read the Explanatory Notes and Information to the Users. Collaboration among data generators, users and compilers at national and regional levels, as well as support from international organisations, is essential.


c1 *Corresponding author: Email