academia discussed existing data and data needs in four areas. The last two sections summarize the issues and questions raised by members of the panel and others on two forward-looking topics: use of proprietary data for policy purposes and possible data improvements.
This summary does not offer any conclusions or recommendations; those are in the main body of the panel’s report (Chapter 5). The panel’s mission in this workshop and in its deliberations was to consider modest data improvements that could be made to the current data infrastructure with little expense, such as adding new questions to existing surveys and linking existing datasets. The panel was not asked to consider a major overhaul of data systems.
Many topics were covered during the one-and-a-half day workshop. The workshop began with an overview of food consumption, expenditures, and sales datasets, focusing on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, and proprietary datasets from food market research firms. The next three sessions of the workshop were devoted to the food consumption and expenditure data needs for different agencies in USDA and in other federal agencies: one session focused on food marketing and promotion and food market analysis at which there were presentations of the food consumption data needs of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and a description of USDA’s World Agricultural Board’s economic forecasts; one focused on food consumption data and the evaluation of food assistance programs for monitoring and evaluation; and one covered food safety and food consumption data and featured presentations describing current uses of food consumption data by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs. The fifth session, on food consumption data and health, included presentations from USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and from the National Cancer Institute. Each of these sessions included a discussion of data needs for that topic by individual researchers working outside of the federal government. The sixth session was devoted to the use of proprietary sources of data to address policy questions and included presentations from representatives of ACNielsen and the NPD Group, along with a presentation about the applications of these data. The final workshop session consisted of a panel discussion on possible data improvements or data linkages, with participation by four panel members. The topics of supplement intakes and food composition databases were discussed only briefly at the workshop.