An online database designed to answer a broad range of questions about the nutritional composition of foods has been comprehensively updated by ANSES, the French agency responsible for food and environmental and occupational health and safety.
The French Observatory of Food Quality (CIQUAL-OQALI) populates and manages a reference data base on the nutritional composition of foods which is published on the CIQUAL website.
The site provides the calorie count and the fat, carbohydrate, protein, vitamin and mineral content of thousands of foods which are representative of those consumed in France.
The last version of the CIQUAL table was published in 2008. With the acquisition of an extensive amount of new data, the new revamped version of the CIQUAL provides approximately 200,000 new source data items have been added, twice as many as previously.
140 foods have also been added, including flours, cereals, cookies and cakes, biscuits, dairy specialities, oils, meats, fish, fruit juices and prepared foods; in all, the nutritional composition of 1,440 foods is now available to web users.
Following an update of the French Population Reference Intakes (ANC) for fatty acids by the Agency in 2010, the 2012 CIQUAL table now also provides a detailed profile of the fatty acids in foods, while a new search function enables users to sort foods by levels of a given component.
For example, a search can be performed for the foods with the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) or of vitamin B9 (folates), or those containing the least salt (sodium) or sugar.
The foods in the CIQUAL data base are "generic". They are a reflection of all the foods of a given type (fresh apricots, cooked pasta or pasteurised whole milk, for example) consumed in France.
According to ANSES, the CIQUAL table is a source of reference information for everyone who wishes to eat a balanced diet. It is also a major resource for health professionals (nutritionists, dietitians) who use it to devise personalised menus and recommendations for their patients. The data base is also used regularly by nutritional software designers, agro-food professionals for nutritional labelling, and by nutritional epidemiology research teams.