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Comparisons with the 1995 NNS classification system

Changes to the classification of foods since the 1995 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) largely reflect changes in the food supply since that time. For example the new major food group for dairy and meat alternatives, which were previously grouped with dairy and meat products, is a result of major growth in this food sector since 1999. Changes at the sub-major and minor food group level also allow for easier grouping of foods with similar compositional profiles and assist in meeting reporting requirements for the 2011–13 Australian Health Survey (AHS).

Major differences between the AHS food classification system and the 1995 NNS food classification system are described below in relation to major, sub-major and minor food groupings.

The major group level

There has been little change in these broad groups since the 1995 NNS, with three exceptions:

  • a new category for Dairy and Meat Substitutes was introduced in recognition of the large market growth in such products over the last two decades
  • a new category for Reptiles, Amphibia and Insects was introduced to allow for the consumption of such foods (e.g. snakes, lizards, frogs, beetles) from the 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) component of the AHS
  • a new category for Dietary Supplements.

The sub-major group level

There are a number of changes in these groups since the 1995 NNS including:

  • separation of cordials from fruit juices and drinks
  • separation of dairy fats into butter and dairy blend
  • inclusion of new groups for wild caught foods such as fish, meats, eggs, seeds, nuts, fruit and vegetables for use in the NATSINPAS
  • separation of prepared soups by processing conditions and place of purchase (e.g. soups prepared from dry mix are separated from those that are homemade or purchased chilled and ready to eat)
  • inclusion of a new group for dips
  • inclusion of a new group for pre-mixed alcoholic drinks.

The minor group level

There are a large number of changes in these groups since the 1995 NNS. Some of the more major changes include:

  • The subdivision of some larger groups on the basis of energy, total sugars, fat or saturated fat content, taking into account criteria in the 2010 National School Canteen Guidelines (Department of Health and Ageing, 2010), applied as appropriate to the composition of foods available in 2011-13. For example, savoury biscuits are now separated by energy content, breakfast cereals by total sugars content, ice creams by fat content and pizzas and similar cereal based dishes by saturated fat content. However, where the majority of a group fell one side of a nutrient cut-off in the School Canteen guidelines, or there were few foods overall in a group, such splits were not made because they did not simplify the use and reporting of the data.
  • The rearrangement of some of the meat based mixed dish groups to combine small groups of foods where there was no apparent benefit in keeping them separate, and to more clearly separate processed meat dishes from fresh meat dishes.
  • Separating out some of the larger vegetable groups, for example by creating a new group for seaweeds.
  • Inclusion of new groups for teas and coffees prepared with milk, such as the cafe and takeaway styles of coffee.
  • Separating by parameters that reflect regulatory and/or food safety differences, such as comminuted fermented meats (salamis) being separated from non-fermented processed meats (such as devon).

To help data users FSANZ has developed a concordance file that maps the changes in classifications between the AHS and the 1995 NNS. Access a copy of the 2011–13 AHS and 1995 NNS food classification concordance file (44 Kb Excel).


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