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Foods in the NPC

Here you'll find information about the foods that are in the Nutrition Panel Calculator (NPC) database and how we've identified, named and described them.

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The NPC database

The NPC database 2011 includes nutrient data for 2520 foods/ingredients, primarily sourced from FSANZ's food composition databases - NUTTAB 20107 and AUSNUT 20078.

Both of these data sources have since been updated and as such an update of the NPC dataset will follow in the future. Messages will be posted to the NPC homepage prior to this update being implemented.

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The Australian Food Composition Database is Australia's reference nutrient database. AUSNUT is a series of databases which support national nutrition surveys. However, neither of these databases were designed to produce nutrition information panels (NIP).

We selected some core foods from both of these databases and modified the data so that it could be used in a database to produce nutrition labelling.

These foods tend to be basic ingredients such as:

  • flour
  • sugar
  • milk
  • pasta.

Additional foods were also included such as products exclusively used by the food industry (ingredients, food additives or processing aids, for example enzymes).

Multi-ingredient foods

There are very few multi-ingredient foods in the NPC database, and these are mainly restricted to:

  • certain plain breads
  • muffins
  • biscuits and cakes
  • sausages and deli meats
  • snack foods
  • toppings and soup powders.

We discourage the use of nutrient data for finished foods. Instead, we recommend you produce NIPs by building a recipe using nutrient data on core ingredients such as for example flour, eggs, milk, sugar and cocoa in a chocolate cake recipe. In most cases this approach will give you the most accurate nutrient values.

Omitted foods

There are a number of foods in the NUTTAB and AUSNUT databases which are not included in the NPC database. Common omitted foods include:

  • multi-ingredient foods as we recommend building a recipe using nutrient data on core ingredients
  • fried meat and fish because variations and amount of frying fat used can have a significant impact on the fat and saturated fat content
  • foods cooked or boiled with salt because any variations in the amount of salt added can have a significant impact on the sodium content
  • foods cooked or stewed with sugar because any variations in the amount of sugar added can have a significant impact on the sugars and carbohydrate content
  • fortified foods because fortification practices generally apply to the vitamin and mineral content of the food and is not relevant to the production of NIPs using the NPC. Foods fortified with dietary fibre and protein have been retained because the total energy content of the food will be higher, compared with the unfortified version.
  • unspecified foods, for example 'Cream, not further specified' because while useful for surveys, these foods aren't appropriate for use in nutrition labelling.

Additional foods and ingredients

Some foods and ingredients used in food manufacturing weren't available in NUTTAB and AUSNUT. To address these data gaps, we included nutrient data for 84 previously unpublished foods and ingredients in the NPC database. This data has been compiled using food composition tables from other countries, scientific literature, ingredient specification sheets and food labels. Additional foods include:

  • some raw or unprocessed ingredients
  • meat cuts without separable fat
  • food processing ingredients that are used exclusively by the food industry such as additives, sugar alcohols and organic acids
  • commercially significant indigenous foods
  • gluten free and other specialty flours
  • other food items in response to user request such as pork blood, herbs, egg white powder and palmolein.

Identifying, naming and describing foods in the NPC database

Here you'll find information about naming conventions in the NPC database.

Food ID and Public Food Key (PFK)

Every food in the NPC database has a unique 8 character Food ID. This ID is typically based on the identification system initiated in the series Composition of Foods, Australia (COFA15). The code consists of a 4 character food group code with a 4 digit number following.

The online NPC interface also displays a PFK ID below the Food ID. This is another unique identifier which was introduced in the Australian Food Composition Database - Release 1. The PFK will replace the Food ID when we update the NPC database.

Use of the Key will help you compare nutrient data for the same food over publication releases. It will also make it quicker and easier to update your recipes.

Food name

Foods have been given a common name which best describes it. This aims to give you a detailed description of the food. It captures both:

  • the most commonly available form of a food
  • the exceptions to the commonly available form of the food and preparation where relevant.

For example, sugar sweetened soft drinks are simply referred to as 'soft drinks'. But the intense-sweetened versions are referred to as 'soft drink, intense sweetened'.

Very few foods have a name referring to a specific brand. We avoid the use of brand names wherever possible. This is because their formulas changes over time. Therefore nutrient levels at the time of analysis may not reflect those in a particular brand years later. There are few cases where we mention a specific brand. This is to give general guidance when there are products which appear similar, but have differing nutrient composition. The values we report should be regarded as reflecting the average composition of that class of food. Very few food records come from analyses or a single brand only. The exceptions include Vegemite™ and Milo™ and several breakfast cereals.

In some cases you might find it difficult to identify an appropriate food by the food name alone. An example is 'Paste, curry, Indian style, commercial'. In addition, many have more than one common name. For example baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate. Therefore, we've also given a description for all foods to help users identify it.

Food description

The description field gives more detail about the food or ingredient, including its appearance, texture, production and preparation. For processed foods, we'll list the major ingredients and food additives used where we know it.

The description field is useful for certain foods that might be difficult to identify by just the Food name. The extra details in the description helps users to identify the appropriate record for their needs.

For example:

  • the Food name - 'Pastry, puff, vegetable oil, commercial, baked'
  • the description - 'Pastry purchased raw from supermarkets and then baked at approx. 225 degrees C for 13 minutes. Produces a pastry that contains multiple fine layers and is often used on the top of pies. Typical ingredients include wheat flour, vegetable fat, salt, citric acid and preservative.'

Where suitable, the description may include alternative names the food may be known by. For example, the alternative name for pumpkin seeds is 'pepita'.

Related pages

Page last updated 6 December 2023