In 1986 while working on my doctorate degree, I had the opportunity to conduct an independent study on nutrient analysis software. Those were the days when the operating system was DOS and the monitor was black and green. The purpose was to evaluate the pros and cons of nutrient analysis software. I learned early on recipes are written based on foods as purchased (AP) and in order to obtain a more accurate analysis the foods needed to be converted to the form an individual will consume; this is known as the edible portion (EP). The most accurate nutritional analysis is done in a laboratory and can be costly.
As I explored the Internet, I found numerous recipes without nutrition information, but even worse there were many recipes with inaccurate data. (Here is an example of a recipe I found with wrong information.)
Nutrition information is part of our everyday life. There are millions of people who depend on nutrition information to meet their dietary needs. Some of the diets include: low calorie, carbohydrate controlled, high protein, low protein, low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium, high fiber, gluten free, lactose free, and peanut allergies.
Why use a dietitian for nutritional analysis?
- Recipes are usually written based on what the consumer needs to purchase. The individual analyzing the recipe must evaluate the recipe based on the actual food ready-to-eat (unless the food is meant to be eaten whole.)
- A nutritional analysis program cannot cook or prepare meals. A person must have skills in Food Science, Culinary Arts, Nutrition, Cooking and Preparation Techniques, Purchasing Guides, Yield Factors, and Nutrient Analysis Software. Have you ever wondered how to analyze the following in a recipe? What foods would you choose from the database?
- A marinade you discard
- The salt when preparing pasta
- A pinch or handful
- 3 lb Chicken, directions: cook and remove skin and bone
- Apple, cored and peeled
- Alcohol in a heated dish
- To own professional nutrition software with yearly maintenance fees can be expensive. In addition, there is the cost of an educated person to run the software. Updates are vital in our fast paced food industry with changing government regulations.
Take a short quiz to see if you have the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze a recipe? If not, contact Sandra Frank, EdD., RDN, LD at firstname.lastname@example.org from Dietitians-Online.