The ingredient co-occurrence network of packaged foods distributed in the United States

Kathryn M. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This work presents a novel, comprehensive ingredient co-occurrence network of foods in the United States from the Open Food Database. This network, which contains over 69,000 ingredients and 2 million ingredient co-occurrence relationships, provides a glimpse into the current use of common ingredients for food production and distribution in the United States. Understanding food intake behaviors from this data-driven perspective opens up new avenues for precision health and wellness, for example, in studies of obesity, eating disorders, food allergies, and nursing mothers. The results describe a co-occurrence network with a highly connected core of ingredients found in food distributed in the United States, including salt (4.86% of ingredients), sugar (3.63%), water (3.58%). Further analysis of the most densely connected core of ingredients reveals a majority are added nutrients (niacin, riboflavin) or derived from corn, soy, and wheat. Our results suggest a preference for a small group of ingredients that are used frequently in packaged foods and highlight semantic challenges for aggregating ingredients from food products in a systematic way. This novel approach to analysis of data from freely available food databases can be used to enhance existing methods for modeling food composition at the ingredient level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103391
JournalJournal of Food Composition and Analysis
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Co-occurrence network
  • Food analysis
  • Food composition
  • Ingredient network
  • Network analysis
  • Nutrition informatics
  • Open food database
  • Packaged foods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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