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Frequently asked questions

General questions

Food nutrient database

Food recipe database

Dietary supplement nutrient database

Food measures database

Food classification system

What is AUSNUT 2011–13?

AUSNUT 2011–13 is a set of files that contain all the data needed to help the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) turn the food and dietary supplement consumption information collected from the 2011–12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) and the 2012‒13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) components of the 2011‒13 Australian Health Survey (AHS) into food, dietary supplement and nutrient intakes. It also contains information to help users interpret our data and to allow the data to be compared with older survey databases.

The first release of AUSNUT 2011–13 in May 2104 included data from the NNPAS only. This version contains additional data that were unique to the NATSINPAS. The revised version contains data for an additional 96 foods, 307 food measures and 6 dietary supplements.

The complete AUSNUT 2011–13 contains the following 11 files:

For further information about the information reported in each of these files, or to access the data in these files please click on the relevant link above.

How is it different from AUSNUT 1999 and AUSNUT 2007?

AUSNUT 2011-13 was developed for estimating food, dietary supplement and nutrient intakes from the 2011–12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) and the 2012‒13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) components of the 2011‒13 Australian Health Survey (AHS). This means the foods, dietary supplements, measures and nutrient profiles in the database represent the products reported and available during this time period and the nutrients to be reported as part of the AHS.
AUSNUT 2011-13 may differ from AUSNUT 1999 and AUSNUT 2007 in the:

  • number and types of foods reported
  • way foods have been classified
  • nutrients reported
  • derivation of nutrient data
  • nutrient profiles developed for each food
  • inclusion of dietary supplements (not reported in AUSNUT 1999, but were reported for AUNUST 2007)
  • number and types of measures reported for each food.

When using or comparing nutrient data across surveys, consideration must be given to survey methods and operations such as questionnaire wording, data processing methods, and the way nutrients are reported in each survey database.

Why are the foods assigned different food codes between AUSNUT databases? Do you have a file that allows me to compare foods in AUSNUT 2011–13 with foods in AUSNUT 1999 and AUSNUT 2007?

Each food in AUSNUT is assigned an 8-digit alpha numeric food identification code and an 8-digit numeric survey identification code. The 8-digit alpha numeric food identification code is generated by the FSANZ data management system when the food is created. The 8-digit numeric survey identification code is assigned to the food using the survey classification system hierarchy. For more information refer to the Classification of foods and dietary supplements.

Unfortunately the food identification code assigned to a food in AUSNUT 1999 or AUSNUT 2007 cannot be carried over to AUSNUT 2011-13. This is a result of the requirements of our data management system. The numerical survey identification code also can not be carried over due to slightly different classifications systems being used between surveys.

FSANZ has created a file that links individual foods reported in AUSNUT 2011-13 with foods reported in AUSNUT 1999. For more information refer to the AUSNUT 2011–13 – AUSNUT 1999 Matching File (355 Kb Excel).

FSANZ has not created a file that links individual foods reported AUSNUT 2011-13 with foods reported in AUSNUT 2007. However a linking file for AUSNUT 1999 and AUSNUT 2007 (673 Kb Excel) is available.

Am I able to reproduce the data published in AUSNUT 2011–13? Do I need to sign a copyright licence agreement?

You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the data and material in AUSNUT 2011–13 covered by the CC BY 3.0 licence for commercial and non-commercial purposes; but you must attribute the work in the following manner:

© Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

This attribution must not, in anyway, suggest that FSANZ endorses you or your use of the work. For more information email info@foodstandards.gov.au

You do not need to sign a copyright licence agreement.

How should AUSNUT 2011–13 be referenced?

A suggested long reference is:

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (2014). AUSNUT 2011–13 – Australian Food Composition Database. Canberra: FSANZ. Available at www.foodstandards.gov.au

A suggested short reference is:

© Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

I think I have found a mistake in AUSNUT 2011–13. What should I do?

FSANZ has taken great care to ensure the data in AUSNUT 2011–13 is as correct and accurate as possible. However, FSANZ makes no warranty that the material contained in AUSNUT 2011–13 will be free from error, or if used, will ensure compliance with the relevant requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

If you think you have found an error in AUSNUT 2011–13 please email us at npc@foodstandards.gov.au

If I have a question that has not been answered here, who should I contact?

If you have a question that is not covered in this document please email FSANZ at npc@foodstandards.gov.au. FSANZ hopes to update this document as additional queries come through.

When will the next AUSNUT database be published?

As AUSNUT is FSANZ survey specific database, we will not develop another AUSNUT database until another National Nutrition Survey is conducted in Australia.

What is the difference between NUTTAB and AUSNUT?

NUTTAB (NUTrient TABles for use in Australia) is Australia's reference nutrient database. It contains a wide range of foods and nutrients. The nutrients reported in NUTTAB will vary between foods, according to the data we currently have available.

AUSNUT (AUStralian Food and NUTrient Database) is our series of survey specific nutrient databases that support national nutrition surveys.

Below is a summary of the differences between NUTTAB and AUSNUT.

NUTTAB
AUSNUT
Reference database National Nutrition Survey database
Foods and nutrients vary according to data available Foods and nutrients vary according to survey requirements and reflect foods as consumed
Primarily analysed data Derivation of data varies
Incomplete nutrient dataset for each food Complete nutrient dataset for each food

Food nutrient database

How many foods are reported in AUSNUT 2011–13?

AUSNUT 2011–13 contains data for 5,740 foods (and beverages). The foods in the database reflect foods reported as consumed during the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) and the 2012-13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) components of the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey (AHS).

For further information on the foods reported in AUSNUT 2011–13 refer to the AUSNUT 2011–13 Food Details File (1,050 Kb Excel) .

Does AUSNUT 2011–13 contain a nutrient profile for every food eaten during the AHS?

No, it doesn't. Due to the large number of respondents and wide variety of foods available in Australia it is not possible to produce a nutrient profile for every unique food reported in the AHS. Where possible, FSANZ grouped reported foods with similar nutrient profiles together, with one nutrient profile representing many foods eaten. Nutrient profiles were generated for foods that were frequently consumed, were very different in nutrient composition and were likely to have an important impact on intake estimates for the nutrients being reported in the AHS. In a large scale population survey such as the AHS, this grouping of foods is unlikely to have a significant impact on population nutrient intake estimates.

For further information on how nutrient profiles were created for foods during the AHS refer to Assigning foods and dietary supplements nutrients and measures data.

What nutrients are reported for foods in AUSNUT 2011–13?

AUSNUT 2011–13 contains data for 51 nutrients or related components for foods and beverages. These are:

  • energy, with and without the contribution of dietary fibre to energy
  • proximate constituents including moisture (water), protein, total fat, available carbohydrate (with and without sugar alcohols), total sugars, starch, dietary fibre, alcohol and ash
  • fatty acid components including total saturated, total monounsaturated, total polyunsaturated, total trans, total long chain omega 3, linoleic, alpha linolenic, eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic fatty acids
  • vitamins including vitamin A (as retinol equivalents), preformed vitamin A (retinol), pro vitamin A (beta-carotene equivalents) and beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, preformed niacin, niacin equivalents, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, alpha tocopherol, vitamin E, natural folates, folic acid, total folates and dietary folate equivalents
  • minerals including calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc
  • other components including caffeine, cholesterol and tryptophan.

More information about the nutrients reported in AUSNUT 2011–13 including information on the units, derivation and assumptions and limitations refer to the Components table for foods (18 Kb Excel).

How were nutrients selected for inclusion in AUSNUT 2011–13?

AUSNUT 2011–13 contains data for nutrients reported as part of the AHS and additional nutrients that were required by FSANZ to feed into nutrient calculations.

The nutrients were selected by the Department of Health and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) before the AHS data collection started. Nutrients were generally selected based on whether the nutrient:

  • had been reported in previous national nutrition surveys
  • had a nutrient reference value
  • was of interest at a population level, for example, where there was a known deficiency.

However, the availability of suitable Australian derived analytical data was also taken into account.

More information about the nutrients reported in AUSNUT 2011–13 including information on the units, derivation and assumptions and limitations refer to the Components table for foods (18 Kb Excel).

Why was vitamin D not included in AUSNUT 2011–13?

Vitamin D values are not included in AUSNUT 2011–13 because the ABS did not estimate vitamin D intakes from food as part of the AHS.

There is limited Australian derived analytical data available for vitamin D levels found in foods and there are analytical difficulties associated with measuring the low levels of vitamin D found naturally occurring in food. For most foods, the level of vitamin D will be below the level the analytical laboratory can detect. There has also been some uncertainty associated with the conversion factors used to estimate total vitamin D activity from the levels of individual vitamers (i.e. cholecalciferol, ergocalciferol and the hydroxy forms of both).
 
Estimating vitamin D status using the biomedical results from the AHS is considered to be a more accurate estimate of vitamin D status in the Australian population than one based on dietary intake, as it takes into account the overall effect of diet and sunlight exposure. For information on vitamin D status from the AHS refer to the ABS feature article on Vitamin D.

Where does the nutrient data in AUSNUT 2011–13 come from?

The nutrient data for foods in AUSNUT 2011–13 come from a range of sources. Where possible, nutrient profiles were generated using Australian derived analytical data. However, some data were also borrowed from overseas food composition tables; supplied by the food industry; taken from food labels; imputed from similar foods; or calculated using a recipe approach.

More information about where the food nutrient data in AUSNUT 2011–13 comes from, refer to Developing the food nutrient database.

Have you taken account of overages in fortified foods?

AUSNUT 2011–13 has made no allowance for fortificant overages when using label data to derive nutrient content. This means where a label value has been used to assign a vitamin or mineral concentration to a fortified food the value may underestimate the actual concentration found in the food. This is because food manufacturers may add extra nutrient to a food to ensure the product contains the level declared on the product label at the end of its shelf life.

Why wasn't salt included as an ingredient in your home prepared recipes?

It is difficult for respondents to reliably estimate the amount of salt that is added to foods during cooking, particularly if they are not the person preparing the foods. For this reason, salt is not included as an ingredient in FSANZ recipes for home prepared foods, unless salt is needed for a specific reason unrelated to flavour (e.g. to improve dough structure).

For commercial mixed dishes, analytical data for sodium levels has been used as a guide to the amount of salt to include in FSANZ recipes. However comparable data were not available to use as a guide for home prepared foods.

How did you know what sort of oils and fats are used in commercial products when they often just say they are made with 'vegetable oil'?

FSANZ sought advice from food manufacturers as to the types of fats and oils available for use in catering and manufacturing in Australia at the time of the AHS. We used this advice to help select the most likely fats and oils for use in FSANZ recipes for different commercial products. Where possible, these assumptions have also been checked against the analysed fatty acid composition of similar products.

How did you work out the nutrient profile for not further defined foods?

The nutrient profiles for not further defined foods were developed using a recipe approach that drew on nutrient profiles of closely related foods, with the recipe proportions weighted to reflect consumption patterns observed in either the NNPAS or NATSINPAS or approximate market share information. For example, the nutrient profile for 'bread, from white flour, fresh, not further defined' drew on nutrient data for all white, fresh, fortified or unfortified breads, weighted according to consumption patterns observed in the NNPAS.

Is it possible to determine how much of the total sugar value comes from naturally occurring sugar compared with added sugar?

AUSNUT 2011–13 only reports total sugars values to enable the ABS to report total sugar intakes from the AHS and in its current format does not allow users to determine how much of the total sugar values comes from naturally occurring sugars compared with added sugars. Further work would be needed from users to prepare the data for this type of analysis. 

Does AUSNUT 2011–13 contain brand information?

The foods published in AUSNUT 2011-13 are assigned a generic food name (i.e. Bread, from white flour, commercial), as it is common for a foods nutrient profile to be used to represent many different branded products consumed during a survey (i.e. Bakers delight white bread, Helga’s white bread, Homebrand white bread etc).
 
However, brand specific information is available for some foods in the “Inclusions” field of the AUSNUT 2011-13 NNPAS Food Details file.  This information is only generally provided where brand level information was captured as part of the AHS.
 

Food recipe database

Does the food recipe file contain a recipe for every food in the database?

No, recipe information is only provided for foods with a nutrient profile derived using a recipe approach. Recipe information is not available for foods with a nutrient profile derived using other techniques such analysis, imputation, label data etc.   
 

How are ingredient weights used in recipes reported?

The way the ingredient weights are reported will relate to the approach used to generate the recipe. For example, if the recipe was created using a recipe from a cook book the ingredient weights will generally reflect the ingredient amounts presented in the recipe. In some instances ingredient amounts needed to be converted into a gram amount (i.e. an egg or a cup of flour). In this situation we used the weights we had available for an egg and the density of flour in our measures database to calculate the gram amount.
 
Sometimes ingredient weights were assigned as a percent of the total. This most commonly occurred for cooked meat and vegetables with added fat, processed foods developed using label ingredients and where we had some gross composition data available.   

Dietary supplement nutrient database

How many dietary supplements are reported in AUSNUT 2011–13?

AUSNUT 2011–13 contains data for 2,163 dietary supplements consumed during the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) and 2012‒13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) components of the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey (AHS).

For further information on the dietary supplements reported in AUSNUT 2011–13 refer to Developing the dietary supplement nutrient database.

What nutrients are reported for dietary supplements AUSNUT 2011–13?

AUSNUT 2011–13 contains data for 35 nutrients or related components for dietary supplements. These are:

  • selected proximate constituents including protein, total fat and dietary fibre
  • fatty acid components including total saturated, total monounsaturated, total polyunsaturated, total trans and total long chain omega 3 fatty acid groups, and linoleic and alpha linolenic acids
  • vitamins including vitamin A (as retinol equivalents), preformed vitamin A (retinol), pro vitamin A (beta-carotene equivalents) and beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, preformed niacin, niacin equivalents, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid and dietary folate equivalents
  • minerals including calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc
  • other components including caffeine and cholesterol.

For further information about the nutrients on the dietary supplements reported in AUSNUT 2011–13 refer to Developing the dietary supplement database.

Why is the list of nutrients reported for foods and dietary supplements in AUSNUT 2011–13 different?

The AUSNUT 2011–13 dietary supplement nutrient database does not include values for energy (with and without the contribution of dietary fibre), moisture (water), available carbohydrate (with and without sugar alcohols), total sugar, starch, alcohol, ash, eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic fatty acids, alpha-tocopherol, natural folates, total folates and tryptophan. These nutrients were not included for dietary supplements because:

  • the levels present in supplements do not contribute, or contribute very little, to overall enery or nutrient intakes (e.g. sugar and starch)
  • they are unlikely to be present in dietary supplements in quantifiable amounts (e.g. natural folates)
  • they were not needed in the calculation of nutrients to be reported from the AHS (e.g. tryptophan).

Where does the nutrient data for dietary supplements in AUSNUT 2011–13 come from?

Nutrient profiles for dietary supplements were derived using formulation data available on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (the Register). The AUSNUT 2011–13 nutrient database does not include a full list of Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) registered/listed products. For a full list please see the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

The formulation data available on the Register reflect the levels of active ingredients displayed on product labels in Australia. It is possible that label values may under-estimate actual levels present in a product as overages are allowed for some active ingredients.

FSANZ only had access to the formulation data for active ingredients in dietary supplements. None of the active ingredients in the reported supplements contained relevant levels of carbohydrates in comparison to carbohydrate intake from foods. Carbohydrates such as lactose may be used as excipient ingredients in dietary supplements, but FSANZ did not have data on the levels of these ingredients.

How did you work out the nutrient profile for not further defined dietary supplements?

The nutrient profiles for not further defined dietary supplements were developed using a recipe approach that drew on nutrient profiles of closely related dietary supplements, with the recipe proportions weighted to reflect consumption patterns observed in the AHS. For example, a nutrient profile for Dietary supplement, multivitamin and/or multi-mineral, not further defined drew on nutrient data for the most commonly consumed multi-vitamin and mineral supplements weighted according to consumption patterns observed in the AHS.

Food Measures Database

How did you work out the amount of meat, chicken and fish in small, medium and large serves?

The gram amounts FSANZ has provided for small, medium and large serves of meat, chicken and fish represent our best estimates of what these amounts are, based on studying portion sizes of these foods available for sale in Australia at the time of the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey (AHS). For cooked meat, chicken and fish, we also applied weight change and trimming factors to estimate the final portion size after preparation and cooking.

Why do you say users should not compare the not further defined portion size values across national nutrition surveys?

Many of the not further defined measures generated for the AHS reflect the average serve size reported in the NNPAS or NATSINPAS, which may be different to other surveys.

Food Classification System

Why wasn't the 2013 Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) used to classify foods?

The data generated from the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey (AHS), will be used for many different purposes. It became apparent from consultation by FSANZ and the ABS with a number of individuals and groups when we were developing the classification that the AGHE did not give us a framework that would cover all the ways people report the foods they eat and there are many more foods covered by the AHS than are by the AGHE. All foods reported in the AHS needed to be classified for reporting purposes, in a way that can be adapted for other users' needs. Dealing with mixed dishes is a particular challenge, as such dishes typically contain mixtures of the AGHE five food groups, with and without discretionary foods. Medical/special purpose foods, foods without energy, and dietary supplements are not explicitly captured in the AGHE classification. However many of principles that guided the AGHE and other dietary advice were used to develop the sub-major and minor food groups and many of these do match directly to the 2013 AGHE categories.

I don't like this food classification structure. Can I develop my own?

Of course you can. Different users will have their specific research needs that may be best met by a customised classification system. If you choose to do this, you should bear in mind that this is a time consuming process, especially when comparing consumption over time. This is because each food from each national nutrition survey will need to be re-classified according to the new system. In this situation it is a good idea to develop a concordance file as you work.

Is it possible to identify discretionary foods? How were discretionary foods defined?

Yes it will be possible to analyse results by discretionary and non-discretionary food (and beverage) consumption. The ABS, in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, developed a list of discretionary foods based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Discretionary foods have been flagged in the AHS using the survey's food classification system. For information on how discretionary foods were defined, refer to the ABS website. ​​​​​​​

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