What's in Food FAQs

These FAQs provide basic information and related resources for common food and nutrition questions. For personalized dietary advice, please talk to a qualified health care professional.

Where can I get information on the level of calories, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals in various foods?

I cannot find the food I am looking for in the USDA Food Composition Databases. Are there any other places I can look to find the nutrient content of foods?

  • If you cannot find a food item, or are searching for a food that is not common in the U.S., there are several International Food Composition Resources available where you may be able to find nutrient information on the food you are looking for.

What is the difference between calories and kilocalories?

  • The "calorie" we refer to in food is actually kilocalorie. One (1) kilocalorie is the same as one (1) Calorie (upper case C). A kilocalorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water one degree Celsius. Please visit USDA's Nutrient Data Laboratory for additional information.

Where can I find a chart or list of foods with calcium?

  • Find the calcium content in common foods by using the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Nutrient Lists. You can create a list, sorted either alphabetically by food description or in descending order by calcium content in common household measures.

Is the USDA Database for the Added Sugars Content of Selected Foods still available?

  • The USDA NDL has removed the USDA Database for the Added Sugars Content of Selected Foods from the NDL website. This is due to constant changes in formulations for commercial, multi-ingredient foods, the primary contributor of added sugars to the diet. NDL is not recalculating added and intrinsic sugars at this time, in part, because brand name market shares and ingredients are changed so rapidly that these estimates are more a temporary cross-section in time than fixed values. No method can analyze for added sugars so their amounts must be extrapolated or supplied by food companies, many of which are not willing to make public such proprietary information. The Agricultural Research Service provides additional information about this decision.

Is there a law that requires food labels to list ingredients that commonly cause food allergies?

  • The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, which went into effect January, 2006, requires that food labels identify in plain English if the product contains any of the eight major food allergens - milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soybeans.