Food & Nutrition-NBRI researchers have been producing and managing data for the UK food composition dataset since 1978, and provided data and technical support for McCance and Widdowson’s (eds.) The Composition of Foods 5th (1991), 6th (2002) and 7th (2014) editions.


Since 2009, Food & Nutrition-NBRI has led the multi-disciplinary consortium, funded by Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID), to maintain and update the UK food composition dataset.

How to cite Composition of Foods information:

  • Labelling dataset used for food labelling: UK Composition of Foods Labelling dataset (2021), H Pinchen,  L Zhang, M Roe, S Church, M Traka, P Finglas. Available at (accessed day/month/year)
  • CoFID website searchable version: FN-BRI formally known as FDNC (Food Databanks National Capability) (2021), extended dataset based on PHE’s McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset. Available at:  (accessed day/month/year)
  • Composition of Foods integrated dataset excel version: PHE (Public Health England) (2021) Composition of foods integrated dataset (CoFID). Available at: (accessed day/month/year).
  • McCance and Widdowson 7th edition book:  Finglas PM, Roe M, Pinchen H et al. (2015) McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, Seventh Summary Edition. Royal Society of Chemistry: Cambridge.
first row hidden

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.


Review and updating of UK Composition of Foods

FN-NBRI has been responsible for the updating of the UK Food Composition Data both the McCance & Widdowson’s’ The Composition of Foods and the Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset (CoFiD) since 2005.  This work has been funded by BBSRC via the National Capability and successive grants from various government bodies including Food Standards Agency, Public Health England and in 2022 the Department of Health and Social Care (Dietary Surveys & Food Composition).

The work involves close cooperation with research and other users of the data including academia, dietitians, and the National Diet & Nutrition Survey, led by MRC Epidemiology Unit Department, University of Cambridge.  Closer cooperation with industry has also been a theme of recent new data updates on eggs, pork (AHDB…) and milk (Dairy UK).We work closely with international food composition database compilers in Europe through EuroFIR ( especially dealing with data standardisation, quality and interoperability as well as compilers from outside Europe (e.g. USDA, Australia/NZ, South Africa) through FAO INFOODS

Future surveys are likely to focus on some of the older food data for beef/lamb, chicken/turkey, yoghurts, cheeses as well as the newly emerging plant based alternatives.

The following analytical surveys have been published and all published reports can be found in the Resources and Tools section on this page.

We also have copies of most analytical reports done since 1980s (MW4 onwards) and are available on request.

Resources and Tools

McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods

McCance and Widdowson’s (eds.) The Composition of Foods (7th edn.; MW7) provides nutrient values for a range of commonly consumed foods in the UK.  Since the publication of the sixth edition in 2002, 12 analytical surveys have been undertaken. MW7 includes the majority of the new data from these surveys. In addition to new analytical values, all foods have been reviewed to check that the values are representative of foods currently consumed. Many processed foods have been reformulated to reduce the content of salt, sugar and fat in line with government public health initiatives and, where necessary, values have been updated with industry to reflect those changes in composition. Values for a wide range of nutrients (e.g. proximates, inorganics, vitamins, fibre and fatty acids) are provided and additional tables provide data for carotenoid fractions, vitamin E fractions and vitamin K for selected foods. AOAC fibre values have been included for a wide range of foods to enable energy calculations, including fibre for food labelling purposes.

For the younger generation, children might enjoy watching Absolute Genius about Elsie Widdowson and the Composition of Foods :


We have worked with RSC to develop two eBooks covering the Fish and Fish Products and the Miscellaneous Foods Supplements to the 5th Edition and these are already available as part of RSC’s eBook collection.  Additional eBooks for MW6, MW7 and other supplements will be available shortly.

Online UK Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset (CoFID)

The ‘Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset’ (CoFID) was first published in 2008, and brought together for the first time all the available data in electronic format as a single, consolidated, dataset. It was updated in 2015 and more recently in 2019.

Some foods that were included in the 2008 CoFID have not been reviewed or validated in the 2015 or 2019 update, and those foods are published separately in a file containing data for ‘old’ foods. These data can be used in addition to the updated dataset, but users should be aware that the values for some nutrients may not represent those foods as currently consumed.

Foods calculated by recipe or calculated based on another food (e.g., foods weighed with waste) have not been recalculated to include the most recent data for ingredients since the update in 2015.

The CoFID lists analytical nutrient data for 2,910 foods, with a further 393 in the ‘old foods’ file. The data are divided across 13 worksheets, and include nutrient data for:

  • macronutrients
  • vitamins
  • vitamin fractions
  • minerals
  • fatty acid fractions
  • phytosterols
  • organic acids

A subset of the data has been published in book form as McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods seventh summary edition.

CoFID searchable website

The searchable website for CoFID was commissioned following feedback from users, particularly the general public, who requested a way of easily accessing nutritional information for particular foods.

Prior to the launch of the tool, users needed to download and manually search through the full Excel dataset. The new web tool allows users to enter search terms related to the food of interest and the website returns a list of relevant foods, showing the food code, name and key nutrient values (energy, fat, water, carbohydrates, sugars, protein). Clicking on an item from the list opens a detailed page for the food giving all the available nutrient values.

The individual food page also includes comments on key nutrient values, such as the origin of the data, and is the first time that this information has been available to the end user. This function is particularly useful for researchers, academics and clinicians who may need to assess how suitable the values are for their intended use.



The EuroFIR FoodEXplorer facility is an innovative interface, which can be accessed online and allows its users the simultaneous search of more than 20 standardised and specialised food composition databases (FCDB). Users have access to a wide range of European data, linking foods and nutrients through harmonised data description and associated nutrient value information.

The search facilities include options to search on food name, food description and a combination of food name and food description as well as the powerful and unique ability to compare the component values between foods from European FCDBs. Outputs can be downloaded as spreadsheets, allowing the user to manage the data as required. The FCDBs linked with EuroFIR use standardised food description (LanguaL) and standardised component and value description through the use of thesauri (standard vocabularies) to achieve a fully standardised approach linking between data in the various European FCDBs.