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Recipe Calculation - Adjustment of moisture content

 Updated 2019-11-27

 Using simple recipe calculation to adjust the nutrient values of foods based on the moisture content

One of the most important components in food composition work is moisture. The moisture content of many foods, especially foods with a high moisture content like fruits and vegetables, can vary significantly. This is one of the reasons why components like trace elements in some environments often are expressed on a dry weight basis. Even small differences in moisture content can lead to large differences in dry matter content. 

Adjustment of moisture content is one of the simplest recipe calculation procedures. It only includes changes in moisture content with corresponding adjustment of all other compositional values. The simple adjustment does not include any form of retention factors.

The procedure is most often used in order to eliminate unnecessary bias in precision aggregation of food data from different sources - very often by converting all values to dry weight basis, aggregating the data and then convert values back to the common wet weight basis, e.g. per 100 g edible food.

When nutrient values of foods of different origin are compared or aggregated, and nutrient contents are expressed in units of amounts per fresh weight, e.g. per 100 g edible portion, it is important first to adjust the nutrient contents of one or both compared foods to the values they would have if they had the same moisture content. Moisture adjustments are especially important for foods with a high moisture content, typically fresh fruits and vegetables.
Failure to adjust for moisture differences adds unnecessary variability (“noise”) to the nutrient content of an aggregated food based on nutrient values from different sources.

The traditional procedure of adjustment of compositional values according to a specific moisture content is described in detail in "classic" food composition tables like the Food Composition table for Use in Africa and in Food Composition. Tables for Use in the Middle East. The use of a nomogram for calculation of a conversion factor is described in detail.

The original procedure is described by Claude Jardin in 1968. The specific procedure can be found in Food Composition table for Use in Africa (Annex II, page 227 Food Composition Table for Use in Africa, 1968).




  • Jardin, C.:
    Composition des aliments et pourcentage d'humidité.
    Ann. Nutr. Alim., Vol. 22, pp. 329-333, 1968.
  • Pellet, P. L. ; Shadarevian, S.:
    Food composition. Tables for Use in the Middle East.
    Faculty of Agricultural Science, American University of Beirut, Lebanon, 1970.
  • U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:
    Food Composition Table for Use in Africa.
    U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Bethesda, USA, 1968 Food Composition Table for Use in Africa
  • Polacchi, W.:
    Food composition tables: Recommended method for deriving nutrient values in their preparation.
    Journal of The American Dietetic Association, Volume 85 Number 9, September 1985. 


Swedish Food Composition Database

A new version of the Swedish Food Composition Database released by the National Food Administration, see Livsmedeldatabasen.
FoodData Central
October 2020 release.

A new version of the USDA ARS FoodData Central was released October 2020.
For more information, see FoodData Central website.
The French Ciqual 2020 table is online

With 3,185 foods and 67 constituents, the 2020 version of the Ciqual table is available. See the ANSES-CIQUAL website.
First Anniversary release of USDA ARS FoodData Central

For more information, see USDA National Agricultural Library's Food and Nutrition Updates - May 2020.