Collecting Nutrition Data
nutraCoster is supplied with the USDA Standard Nutrition Reference database, which includes nutrition data for more than 7000 common items.
In some cases, your ingredient may not exist in the USDA database, or the USDA item will not be a good match for your exact ingredient.
We recommend that you do not change the USDA data. Instead, add a new item to the Master Items List in nutraCoster, or copy the USDA item to create a new item. There is no limit to the number of items you can add to the Master Items List.
When you add a new item to the database, contact the vendor of the item and ask them to send you the nutrition data. Here is a sample Nutrition Request Letter that you can use as a template to request nutrition data.
Make sure they include:
- Non-rounded nutrition values for a 100g sample.
- A complete nutrition analysis that includes Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates as well as details for Fats, Vitamins and Minerals.
- Trans fat information.
- Added sugar information.
- Values for Water and Ash (see Nutrition Data Support Article - Nutrient Deviation).
- Ingredient statement.
- Allergen information.
Most companies have the nutrition information readily available, and will promptly send it to you.
Below are some tips that may be helpful:
- Get through to the right person.
- With smaller companies, you will want to call and speak with the owner or someone who manages production or labeling. The nutrition facts label is a derivative of the original 100g information.
- With the bigger companies, send a general request email through their customer service website and then call to clarify and collect the reference number for the inquiry.
- Explain your request as clearly as possible. It helps to have the UPC code or item number.
- Be persistent.
- If you're transferred, gather the new contact information so that you will not have to call the general number next time. If you have left several messages, call the main number again and ask if maybe there is someone else who will be able to be more responsive.
When absolutely necessary, we have (rarely) had to resort to a veiled threat to expedite a request. It goes something like this:
- "We are required to put Nutrition Facts labels on our products. If you can't provide nutrition data, we can't create our nutrition labels, and we can't sell our product. It has the same effect as if we can't get delivery of the ingredient. We would have to find a different vendor who can provide the information we need."
Upon receipt of an accurate analysis, note the final sender and ask if they can be the contact for this particular brand in the future.
If none of these tips work and you still have trouble getting an accurate nutrition analysis from the occasional difficult vendor:
- We offer an additional database of brand name information called Ingredient Library 2&3.
- Check the nutraCoster Nutrition Data Share Library. Consider submitting any information you collect for inclusion in the Data Share.
- We have a large internal database of data we have collected for our nutrition analysis service. We will be happy to provide you with specific items if we have them. In most cases we do not have permission to distribute this information except to users of the specific products.
- We can help you collect information if you need help.