The CNPP Food Prices Database, provides 2003-2004 average national prices of approximately 4,600 foods in an “as-consumed” form. These foods include foods that are consumed alone (apples, carrots, etc.), made as a recipe and include different food ingredients (noodle casserole, chicken pot pie, etc.), and commercially prepared foods (frozen dinners, canned soups, etc.). Food “as consumed” differs from food “as-purchased,” as the former accounts for changes in weight due to cooking and excludes refuse, such as the peel on vegetables and bones on meat. The list of foods matches those reported consumed by participants in the 2003-04 NHANES survey. NHANES is a sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It shows the actual cost of an apple consumed, the cost of a glass of juice drunk, the cost of lasagna eaten, etc. For example, “Did you know that when you purchase a whole chicken and only consume the meat, your price per pound eaten is actually twice the price per pound purchased?” This is because the weight of the skin and bones is about half of the whole chicken purchased.
The survey provides information on people’s consumption of foods and nutrients over 2 days. Individuals report the amount of food they eat in the “as-consumed” form. The nutrient content of these foods is determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), using the FNDDS and the National Nutrient Database. These two databases contain information on recipe ingredients used to prepare foods (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2004, 2008). CNPP uses these databases to break foods down into the “as-purchased” form, or ingredients, which are then matched to purchase data found in the Nielsen Homescan ™ Consumer Panel. This panel tracks about 8,500 households per year regarding their food purchases. Each household is equipped with an electronic home-scanning unit, and household members are expected to record every purchase they make by scanning in the appropriate codes of the food products they purchase or, when foods do not contain codes, hand entering the food information.