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Interpretation of food composition data

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All data refer to 100 g edible portion for solid foods respectively to 100 ml for liquid foods. Inedible fractions such as stones, kernels, bones etc. are not taken into account. Unless otherwise stated, all data refer to fresh, uncooked, unprocessed foods.

Some examples are given below for clarification purposes:

100 g bananas = 100 g peeled bananas
100 g peaches = 100 g peaches without stones
100 g cherries = 100 g cherries without stones and stalks
100 g walnuts = 100 g shelled walnuts
100 g chop = 100 g chop without bones
100 g trout = 100 g trout without fish bones, head etc.

All data are understood to mean average values and not as absolute values, because the food composition of foods is subject to natural variations. The individual composition of a food depends on factors such as climate, degree of ripeness, season, origin, variety, feed, storage and processing conditions etc.

For processed products such as sausages, dairy products or pastries the various recipes lead to considerable differences in the nutritional values.

The total weight of the nutrients is not always 100 g exactly. There are various reasons for this:

  • The information is based on 100 ml and the food is more or less dense than 1. For example, a density > 1g/ml means that 100 ml is heavier than 100 g and the total weight of the nutrients therefore exceeds 100 g.
  • The individual pieces of information come from different analyses and/or sources. Deviations of +/- 5% are tolerated.

The Swiss Food Composition Database contains a variety of dishes (e.g. apple tart or risotto) and foods (e.g. bread) for which the nutritional values have been calculated. Whenever possible, standard recipes were used. Unless stated otherwise, recipes requiring the addition of salt were calculated with non-iodised salt.

If individual nutritional value data exist for a food (e.g. on packaging or company websites) then in general those are to be preferred to the generic1 information in the Swiss Food Composition Database.

At present nutritional value labelling on packaging is mainly voluntary. It only becomes obligatory if specific nutritional value characteristics (e.g. “rich in vitamin C”) are indicated on the packaging or label of a food.

The quantities declared on packaging also represent average values that have been analysed or calculated (e.g. with the help of the Swiss Food Composition Database). They must reflect the nutrient content at the time of delivery (i.e. up to the end of the sell-by date or expiry date) and must refer to the edible prepared food.

The Swiss Food Composition Database contains lots of information about branded products2. This information, which has been provided by the companies, is added without being verified and any questions about it must be addressed to the relevant companies.

Special case for vitamins

Products with added vitamins may contain up to three times the declared amount of vitamins, as the vitamin content decreases over time. Overdosing ensures that the declared amount is available in the product up to the end of the shelf life. This means that a vitamin-enhanced food at the beginning of its shelf life can contain a significantly higher vitamin content than is declared on the packaging.

1) By generic foods we mean general/ordinary foods with no link to a specific manufacturer or provider.

2) By branded products we mean all foods in the database which can be linked to a specific manufacturer or provider. Details of the manufacturer/provider can be found in brackets after the name of the food and in the references for individual nutritional values in each case.