Food Research On-Line - FROL

MyNetDiary Inc. use FROL system for collecting nutrition facts, or food labels, available at public sites of various vendors like restaurants, supermarkets and food manufacturers. FROL nutrition information helps customers in a process of planning and tracking their diet.

The Process

FrolAdmin enters vendor information in FROL. FrolUser performs nutrition data entry using vendor guidelines created by FrolAdmin.

In particular, FrolAdmin enters names of the vendors whose nutrition facts need to be collected and creates foodGroup hierarchy for every vendor. FrolAdmin enters nutrition catalog URL for every vendor or foodGroup along with textual guidelines for data entry.

FrolAdmin creates FrolUser accounts with foodGroup access rights.

FrolUser logs into FROL and adds complete foods to foodGroups created by FrolAdmin. FROL system is available at

FROL attempts saving data after input focus leaves every field. In case of incorrect data, FROL displays error messages next to fields. After entering all values available for the food, FrolUser finalizes the food by clicking on 'Complete' button.

Note1. In order to speed up acceptance, FrolUser notifies FrolAdmin when vendor is complete by clicking on Review link described in Review and Acceptance Process section below. All foods for the vendor should be Complete in order to start the review. FrolUser should remove incomplete InResearch foods in case they cannot or do not need to be completed.

Food Details

The following snapshot demonstrates food data collected by FROL:

Note2. Although Food Details page contains about 60 fields, our statistics show that average food has only about 10-15 values available from the vendor. It is important to enter ALL values published by food vendor. Notice, that the most common and important fields are highlighted with bold font.





FROL generates this unique number while adding new food


Every food has an individual life cycle going through the following stages:

InResearch - when FrolUser modifies food data

Complete - after FrolUser has entered all data in correct manner

Accepted - after FrolAdmin has verified food data

Released - after FrolAdmin released the food to production


foodGroup this food belongs to. The 'go' link placed next to food group name leads to vendor or group-specific nutrition catalog. If necessary, FrolAdmin supplies food entry guidelines displayed below the group name.


Required web address of an individual, фудspecific page containing food nutrition information. Clicking on the 'go' link sitting next to the field opens the foodUrl entered by FrolUser in a new browser window.
In case individual foodUrl is not available, FrolUser enters a URL closest to the individual one (e.g. URL of vendor nutrition guide published in PDF format).


Required name of the food, which should be unique within the group, e.g. 'Plain cream cheese light' or 'Lower carb multigrain bread'.
Simple recipe in foodName: As a rule, foodName should not contain any serving or packaging information. It is acceptable to describe a simple recipe (like coffee with milk or cereal with milk) in foodName. For example, the following foodName is acceptable: "Iced cofee (serving 160g with 20ml of milk)". Please, surround recipe description with paretheses, mark food as gramless and enter "serving" word in serving1 field.


Energy is the most important nutrient to enter, required for every food. The following units of measure are accepted for food energy:
Kcal - default unit of measure for energy used in nutrition labeling in US, Canada and other countries.
Kj - unit of measure for energy used in nutrition labeling in UK,
1 kilocalorie (Kcal) = 4.184 kilojoules (Kj)


Total fat in grams, important source of calories, can be blank

saturatedFat, transFat, polyunsatFat, monounsatFat

Kinds of fat in grams, whose sum should be at the same order of magnitude as totalFat in grams

cholesterol, sodium, potassium

Input in milligrams


Important source of calories: Carbohydrates in grams.
US and Canada food labels contain weight of "total carbs", that is all carbs inluding fiber. UK food labels contain "net carbs", that is all carbs minus fiber (synonyms for "net" carbs are "available", "glycemic", "usable", "nutritive" carbs).

FrolUser enters "total carbs" value from US and Canadian nitrition label into this field, "net" or "available" carbs from UK nutrition labels.


Input in grams


Input in grams
Notice that 'sugar' nutrient is completely different from 'sugar alcohols'.


Input in grams or %vol (alcohol percentage by volume).
While entering alcohol in %vol units, FrolUser must supply weight1 gram value or serving1 value in ml or fl.oz.
Notice that this is 'alcohol ethyl' nutrient, which is completely different from 'sugar alcohols'.


Important source of calories, in grams


Enter numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor, without any re-calculation.

The following units of measure are accepted:

% - percentage of Daily Value (%DV), or percentage of Reference Daily Intake. FROL assumes this unit of measure by default, when FrolUser enters only the number.

IU - International Units

mcg - micrograms

RE - retinol

RAE - retinol activity equivalent

beta-carotene-in-oil - beta-carotene in normal foods

beta-carotene-dietary - 'dietary' beta-carotene in food supplements

alpha-carotene-dietary - 'dietary' alpha-carotene in supplements

cartenoid-dietary - cartenoids in supplements

See more at


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV, mg, IU


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV, mg


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV, mg


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV, IU or mcg


Caffeine in mg


Starch in g


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mg


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mcg


Enter numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor, without any re-calculation.

The following units of measure are accepted:

% - percentage of Daily Value (%DV), or percentage of Reference Daily Intake. FROL assumes this unit of measure by default, when FrolUser enters only the number.

mg - milligrams

IU - International Units

See more at


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mcg

thiamin (also known as VitaminB1)

riboflavin (also known as VitaminB2)

niacin (also known as VitaminB3)

Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mg

folate (also known as folacin, folic acid, VitaminB9, VitaminM)

Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mcg

panthothenAcid (also known as VitaminB5),




Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mg


Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mcg



Numeric value and units of measure as published by vendor: %DV or mg



Food Servings

It is critically important for FrolUser to enter serving information correctly. Without correct serving definition all nutrient data described above is useless and will not be accepted by FrolAdmin.





An attribute of the food that should be checked only when food vendor publishes nutrient data without any description of serving weight in grams, oz or any other weight units of measure.

When gramless field is in checked state, FROL requires only one serving definition without weight part.

When gramless field is in un-checked state, FROL allows entering multiple serving definitions and requires weight input for every serving.

Collecting additional serving information results in significant convenience for MyNetDiary users, which is why 4Techo pays extra money for every additional serving entered for the food.

Small, medium, large decision: multiple gramless foods or single food with multiple servings. When vendor publishes a gramless food with multiple serving descriptions that do not have weight defined (like coffee with small, medium and larges cup sizes), FrolUser creates multiple gramless foods
(first foodName='coffee small', second foodName='coffee medium', third foodName='coffee large').
Otherwise, if weight info in grams is available, then FrolUser creates a single food with multiple additional servings with grams
(foodName='coffee', serving1='small',serving2='medium',serving3='large').

Additional serving names can be identified by words like short, tall, 16oz, 24oz, grande, venti, small, medium, large, jumbo etc. FrolUser should make correct decision on creating additional servings.


A description analyzed food amount having nutrient values found on the food label, for example: 'cup' or '2.5' slices. This description could contain a number and one or more words.
Please, do not confuse packaging with serving: if vendor has '16 cans' on nutrient label, that means packaging. In this case serving='can'. If nutrient label has '3.5 slices' specified, then serving = '3.5 slices'.
A simple way to distinguish between serving and packaging is to imagine if a person can consume such a portion in a single meal (16 cans of soda would be too much whereas '3.5 slices' is a reasonable amount).
Servings-per-container or servings-per-entree are not defining serving amount itself and should not be confused with serving grams or amount-per-serving like '3 pancakes'.

See also examples of errors


Input in any weight units of measure convertible to grams, for example:
'120g', '3oz', '1/2lb', '1/3kg'.
Please, notice that fl. oz. and ml are units of measure for volume, not weight. It is appropriate to use them for clarifying serving information, not weight, for example:
serving='small glass 8 fl oz' or serving='medium cup 200ml'.


Serving examples

The following table demonstrates typical cases of serving input:

'Serving size'
on food label

FrolUser enters as




cup (250g)



Vendor published serving with weight, enter both values

3 slices (68g)

3 slices


Serving consists of number and word

1 ½ loaf

1.5 loaf


Gramless food, serving contains a fraction number.

2 oz



Vendor published weight only, enter 'serving' as a default serving word, use oz as weight units of measure




Vendor published weight only, enter 'serving' as a default serving word

small 16 fl oz

small 16 fl oz


Gramless food, use number of fl. oz. to clarify serving volume, not weight.

200 ml cup (155g)

200 ml cup


Use number of ml to clarify serving volume, enter weight as published by vendor.

14 cans



Vendor included packaging info, imagine if person can consume that much in a single meal, come up with correct single serving.


See also special serving instructions for Simple recipe in foodName.


Review and Acceptance Process

After FrolUser enters all foods for the vendor and makes them Complete, FrolAdmin reviews the foods and makes them Accepted.
The Vendor is accepted when all foods are accepted.


Examples of data errors:

1. Incorrect value: value in FROL differs from value provided by vendor, except automatic rounding in FROL

2. Incorrect units of measure: for example, vendor publishes VitaminA in IU but FrolUser enters value in %DV

3. Incorrect food group choice for the food

4. Missing nutrient value: value is published by vendor but not entered into FROL

5. Incorrect gramless value

6. Missing additional servings: additional servings with grams are published by vendor but not entered in FROL

7. Incorrect small,medium,large decision

8. Serving confused with packaging

9. Servings-per-container do not define serving

10. Servings-per-entree do not define serving

11. Incomplete group: some foods are missing in a group

12. Packaging information in foodName, except the cases when this is needed to make up unique names for gramless foods

13. Irrelevant information in foodName, e.g. words like 'New for Summer 2007'

14. Serving description is not concrete: real serving description published by vendor, but FROL has default word 'serving', which is not concrete enough

15. Duplication of the same food due to various packaging

16. Duplication of the same food across two or more groups

17. Fl.oz entered as weight: for milkshakes and other lighter-than-water liquds fl.oz. define volume, not weight. Fl.oz. or ml could be entered into serving description, not into weight filed.


Data entry tips

  • Use FireFox browser, which is significantly faster than Internet Explorer in HTML rendering.
  • FROL Food Details page is optimized for keyboard input, use Tab (Shift + Tab) keys for navigating between food fields.
  • Click 'Add' button at Food Details page in order to Complete current food and start entering a new food.
  • Use group history at Food List page to see all food modifications in chronological order.
  • While browsing groups at Food List page, turn 'Include food details' option off for faster response.
  • If needed, use food notes field for attaching фудspecific un-structured information.
  • Submit your questions to
  • You can use Review link for asking vendor-specific questions, see Review and Acceptance Process section
  • In order to detect food duplication across categories, select the vendor at Food List page and sort by foodName.


Proposed vendors process

FrolUser creates a new, non-duplicated vendor or brand catalog using Proposed Vendors FROL page. FrolAdmin reviews the catalog and assigns the vendor so that FrolUser can enter foods.

Note3. After proposing a vendor FrolUser cannot see the vendor at Food List page untill FrolAdmin changes proposal status to Assigned.

Walk-through example for FrolUser:

  • Click on Propose link available at Food List page, Proposed Vendors page opens as a result.
  • Click on 'Propose vendor or brand' link at Proposed Vendors page, Food Group Details page opens as a result
  • Enter foodGroupDesc, e.g. 'My vendor'
  • Enter foodGroupUrl, e.g.
  • Enter estimatedCount, e.g. 300
  • Select vendor type, 'Food Store' is a good default value
  • Enter vendor food entry guidelines or vendor-specific question in Notes field
  • Enter sub-group names as lines in text area, e.g. Sub-group1 and Sub-group2
  • Click Save button
Note4. It is very important to find and create as many sub-categories as possible for the following reasons:
1. The words from categories are appended to foodName while releasing FROL food to MyNetDiary production, which helps customers search foods.
2. Review, acceptance and future maintenance of vendor information is easier wich detailed catalog.

Create more sub-categories: e.g. click on a link with Sub-group1 identifier, Food Group Details page opens for Sub-group1. Enter sub-sub-categories and click save. FROL supports unlimited number of levels in sub-group hierarchy.
Notice, that sub-groups have 'Exclude groupDesc from foodDesc' option, which FrolUser should select in order to prevent category information from being included in final foodDesc released to production.
For example, this option should be selected for groupDesc='Salads and dressings' in order to not have 'salads and dressings' words appended to every foodDesc while releasing foods in production.

How to make sure vendor or brand are not duplicated

Food industry is a dynamic, fast-changing world. Food brands are often sold between food vendors, vendors can slightly change their name while growing their business, variations of the same brand are introduced over time. While proposing vendors or brands, FrolUser should make sure that brand is not intered in FROL or MyNetDiary production yet:
  • make sure vendor/brand is not found at Proposed Vendors page
  • make sure vendor/brand is not found via Food Grid at (please, open test drive link in a different browser in order to keep your FROL session)

How to find nutritional information on vendor site

1. Typically, front page of vendor site contains links with words like:
Products, Foods, Brands, Menu, Nutrition, Facts.
2. Vendor's site map is another quick way to find those links.
3. As a last resort, go to and search for:
nutrient nutrition nutritional
where myvendor is the name of proposed vendor.

Multi-brand vendors

FrolUser should be careful while propsing multi-brand vendors like Conagra of Kraft: they may already exist in MyNetDiary production. If not sure, propose a vendor and ask a question via Notes field before creating detailed catalog.

High-priority vendors

FrolAdmin may decide to mark vendor as high-priority. In that case FrolUser should perform food entry and FrolAdmin should review and accept vendor's foods as soon as possible.
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