The FAO/INFOODS/IZiNCG Global Food Composition Database for Phytate (PhyFoodComp) is the first global repository containing analytical data on the phytate content of foods. 

Assessment of dietary zinc intakes is the best method for estimating zinc exposure in individuals and in populations. 

Knowledge of dietary phytate levels is essential to estimate the adequacy of zinc intakes.  Phytate, or myo-inositol hexaphosphate, is the main determinant of the bioavailability of zinc from the diet. It is mostly found in unrefined cereals, seeds and pulses. Unfortunately, data on the phytate content of foods are rarely included in national or regional food composition tables or databases.

In addition, traditional analytical methods used to measure the total phytate in food do not distinguish between the higher (IP5 and IP6) and the lower (IP1 – 4) inositol phosphates. Consequently, the information provided may be misleading because zinc absorption is inhibited primarily by the IP6 and IP5 forms. Newer methods are capable of separating and quantifying individual inositol phosphates, and using these values whenever possible, will more accurately reflect the inhibiting effect of phytate on zinc absorption.

In order to close this knowledge gap, efforts have been combined to develop a phytate database known as the FAO/INFOODS/IZiNCG Global Food Composition Database for Phytate. The database contains phytate data (in its different forms and determined by different chemical methods), as well as iron, zinc, calcium, water, and different phytate:mineral molar ratios. 

Technical information

PhyFoodComp contains 3,377 food entries and recipes which were categorized into 19 food groups and their subgroups, the majority being cereals and their products, and legumes and their products. 

All values, including liquids, are presented per 100 g edible portion (EP). 

New INFOODS component identifiers, or tagnames, have been created according to the method of analysis used and components specified.

The database is coded using the FoodEx2 system standards.

Future steps

FAO/INFOODS/IZiNCG aim to continue to collect and compile high quality compositional data of foods and to publish new versions of this database, working to acquire and disseminate adequate and reliable data in order to meet user needs.

The next step is to establish retention factors for phytate based on various food processing practices that could be applied to mixed dishes and specific food and food subgroups. 

For related IZiNCG Technical Briefs, click here. For related publications, click here.