About the food groups

The foods in the Norwegian Food Composition Table are organized into eleven groups according to origin and use. Here is a general description of how the table values are determined in some of the food groups. Each table value is linked to a reference that explains how the value has been obtained. A list of all references can be found under “About the food table” and “Download”.

Milk and milk products

Most types of milk and milk products have Norwegian analytical values from the period 1992–2016. The composition of fatty acids and the content of fat-soluble vitamins in milk fat are determined based on analyzed values. Then the composition and content of fat soluble vitamins in different milk products are calculated based on the amount of milk fat in the product.

All table values for milk and milk products represent annual averages. The content of vitamin A in whole milk for instance, can vary up to 30 % during a year, and are highest in the summer. The content of iodine also varies with season.

Extra low-fat milk and some types of flavoured milk are enriched with vitamin D so that the amount is 0.4 µg vitamin D per 100 g.

Cheeses are grouped according to their fat content: extra fat cheeses contain more than 30 % fat, full fat cheeses have 20-30 % fat, reduced fat cheeses have 10-20 % fat and low fat cheeses contain less than 10 % fat.

Whey spread (Prim), a product intended for children, is enriched with iron.

Table values for unspecified milk, white cheese and whey cheese are estimated based on market shares of the most frequently sold types in each category.

Poultry and meat

Most of the table values for raw meat of cattle and sheep and some meat products are based on Norwegian analytical data conducted between 1983 and 1995. The majority of the values for poultry are based on Norwegian analytical data from 2016. The values for pork are from analyses conducted in collaboration with Information office for Eggs and Meat in 2009 (1). In this project values for vitamin D in meat has been analysed.

Fresh and frozen whole meat has very similar nutrient content. The table values for fresh meat therefore can be used for frozen meat.

As most of the fat from chickens and other types of poultry is found in or just under the skin, the nutritional values with and without skin are presented for these products with as well as without skin. Examples of table values plus lowest and highest analyzed value in samples of rotissarie chicken are shown in the attachment named Variation.

The content of vitamin A (retinol) varies considerably in animal livers, which is also evident from the results of Norwegian analyses for liver paté. See the attachment named Variation.

Fish and shellfish

Most table values for raw fish and fish products are based on Norwegian analytical data.

The fat in fatty fish is distributed in the flesh of the fish and under the skin, while in lean fish it is stored in the liver. The content of fat and fatty acids varies a lot with season in fatty fish. In farmed fish, the type and amount of fat, the content of fat-soluble vitamins and trace elements vary with the composition of the fish feed.

The distinction between fatty and lean raw fish is set at 5 g per 100 g fish, similar to the report Comprehensive Analysis of Fish from the Scientific Committee for Food Safety (2). The most common fatty fishes are salmon, trout, Atlantic halibut, mackerel, herring and eel, while cod, coalfish, plaice, wolf fish, whitefish and scorpaenids are examples of lean fish. Fish that contain between 2 and 8 g fat are sometimes called semi lean fish.

Cereals

The nutrient content of various types of grain is quite similar. The proportion of the grain included in the flour has a bearing on the nutrient content. Wholemeal flour is ground from the entire grain and has a higher content of dietary fiber, vitamins and mineral elements than sieved flour. Finely and coarsely ground flour has the same nutrient content. Ordinary sieved wheat flour contains about 80 % of the wheat grain, while flour for fine baked goods only contains about 65 %. In sieved rye, 70-75 % of the rye grain is used.

Since there is little selenium in the Scandinavian soil, grain grown here has a low content of this trace element. Grain that is imported from other countries has in general a far higher content of selenium. The flour that is sold in Norway is usually a mix of Norwegian and imported grains. The ratio of Norwegian to imported grain and the import country can vary a lot from year to year. The table values for selenium in wheat flour and rye flour for household use are based on Norwegian analytical data from 1997.

Bread and baked goods

The nutrient content of bread and baked goods depends on how much wholemeal flour, whole grains, bran, seeds etc. is used in the product. Home-made breads are calculated with a varying amount of wholemeal flour, and with either water or skimmed milk as liquid. The amount of wholemeal flour in industrially baked breads is not always declared. The following classification system was launched in 2006 by the Federation of Norwegian Food and Drink Industry in cooperation with Federation of Norwegian Bakers, Masterbakers and Confectioners.

Type of breadWholemeal flour %
Wholemeal, extra fibre76 - 100
Wholemeal51 - 75
Semi wholemeal26 - 50
White0 - 25

Potatoes, vegetables, fruit and berries

In addition to Norwegian analytical data for potatoes, vegetables, fruit and berries grown in Norway, the Food Composition Table has Norwegian analytical results for some types of imported fruit and vegetables.

As shown in the attachment named Variation, the content of individual nutrients can vary considerably. Since the values for nutrient content in imported and Norwegian grown fruit and vegetables lies within each others area of variation, there were no clear differences between imported and Norwegian grown products (3).

Special types of vegetables are usually used for industrial frozen vegetables. Possible differences between the table values for fresh and frozen variations of the same type of vegetable can therefore not be interpreted as being a result of the freezing process.

The nutrient content in jams is calculated based on recipes consisting of 50 % strawberries, 25% raspberries and 25 % blueberries, and with various amounts of added sugar. Standard losses of vitamins are included in the calculations.

Margarine, butter, cooking oil etc

Margarine, butter and butter mixed with oil are all enriched with vitamin A and D. In the last years, the food industry has increased the content of vitamin D in a lot of products. They also have changed the composition of fatty acids, with more unsaturated fatty acids.

In addition to the amount of vitamin E that is available naturally in the oils used in the production of margarine, some extra is added to prevent rancidity. Vitamin E is also added to cod liver oil (tran).

Baby foods

The Food Composition Table has a wide range of baby foods. In 2012-2013, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Directorate of Health and University of Oslo, conducted an analysis project on baby porridges. The baby porridges have values both for powder and ready-to-eat porridge.

In the calculation of ready-to-eat baby porridges, a standard recipe of 1 dl water and 30 g powder is used. Two of the porridges are based on other recipes, because they need more added water.

Enrichment of food items

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority’ practice according to enrichment of foods is strict, and enrichment of products must be approved (4). The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety has developed a risk assessment model that is used as the basis for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority assessments. Only the most commonly used enriched foods are included in the Food Composition Table. These are mentioned above in their respective food groups.

Prepared food items and dishes

Most of the table values refer to raw foods or industrial products in the form in which they are normally bought in the shop, i.e. without heating or other household preparation. In addition, calculated table values have been included for some examples of cooked or fried foods and dishes. Most of the recipes have been taken from a standard cookbook (5) Household measurements used in the recipes are converted to net weight in grams using information on edible content in the food composition table, and in the food items' unit weight and specific gravity set out in the brochure Mål og vekt for matvarer (6). Package information was used to calculate the nutrient content of powder-based soups, sauces, casserole bases etc.

Types of fat, milk and cheese used in the recipes

When calculating table values for prepared dishes, three different mixes of unspecified fat have been used: A mix containing vegetable oils, a mix containing different types of cooking fat, and a mix containing butter and margarine. The composition of the mixes is based on data from Norkost 3 (a Norwegian national dietary survey) on what types of fat and how much fat used in the Norwegian diet.  For dishes with cheese, a mixture of 85 % full-fat cheese, 9 % low-fat cheese and 6 % extra full-fat cheese is used. For some commonly used dishes, the calculations have been made with several different types of fat and/or milk.

Loss of vitamins and minerals

Many vitamins are sensitive to heat, light and air. The vitamin content of foods that are eaten will therefore vary according to how they have been kept and prepared. Moreover, some of the water-soluble vitamins can leak out into boiling water or pan juices, and will be lost if this is not eaten.

Any possible loss or absorption of vitamins or minerals during cooking has not been considered, except from bread and heat-treated milk (7).

Weight change

When rice, pasta, dried peas and beans are boiled, the concentration of nutrients in the raw food will be lower for 100 g cooked food compared to 100 g dry food because the food absorbs water under preparation. Meat, fish and eggs that are boiled, baked, roasted or fried result in an increased concentration of nutrients per 100 g prepared foods compared to 100 g of the uncooked food. This is due to loss of water during heat treatment. The amount of water that is absorbed or lost is calculated according to standard factors, see page 54 in "Weight, measures and portion sizes for food" (8).

References:

  1. Opplysningskontoret for egg og kjøtt. Analyser av svinekjøtt 2009. Oslo, 2010.
  2. Alexander J, Frøyland L, Hemre G-I et al. Et helhetssyn på fisk og annen sjømat i norsk kosthold. Vitenskapskomiteen for mattrygghet. Oslo, 2012.
  3. Borgejordet Å, Nordbotten A, Løken EB, Rimestad AH. Content of some micronutrients in selected fruits. A comparison between new and former values in the Norwegian Food Composition Table. Poster. The 8th Nordic Nutrition Conference 20-23 June 2004.
  4. Forskrift 26. februar 2010 nr 247 om tilsetning av vitaminer, mineraler og visse andre stoffer til næringsmidler. www.lovdata.no.
  5. Hovig IE (red). Den nye rutete kokeboken. 3. utgave. Gyldendal Norsk Forlag. Oslo, 1996.
  6. Blaker B, Aarsland M. Mål og vekt for matvarer. Landsforeningen for kosthold og helse. Oslo, 1989.
  7. Öhrvik, V, Carlsen, MH, Källman, A, Martinsen, TA. Improving food composition data by standardizing calculation methods. Nordic Council of Ministers, 2015.
  8. Norwegian Food Safety Authority, Norwegian Directorate of Health, University of Oslo. Weight, measures, and portion sizes for food”, 2015.