This week, Google has added a new feature to its search engine – a new nutrition database.

Now, if you type in for example ‘chicken breast nutrition’, you’ll see the usual list of links pop up, but now, in the right of the screen, you’ll also see nutrition information automatically pop up.  From there, there is a drop down menu if you want to select a different type of chicken (eg chicken thigh), and there’s also a drop down box to select the desired portion size (eg per 100g, per half breast, etc).

The data is pulled mainly from the US Department of Agriculture’s database.

My review so far?  Mixed at best.  It appears to be a fairly accurate (based on my searches so far) and convenient resource for searching singular/simple food products such as ‘halibut’, ‘orange’, and so forth.   However, if you search for example ‘hamburger’, it spits out 354 calories for 1 burger.  Of course, we know that the number of calories in a burger varies wildly, depending on the size, patty thickness, where it is purchased from, etc.  They have also not yet added any brand information, so if you try to search ‘All Bran nutrition’ or ‘Starbucks nutrition’, nothing comes up (other than the usual links).

I do give kudos to Google for taking this step in helping the public find nutritional information, but their database is currently only really useful for ingredients for recipes or very simple, singular food products.  I’d suggest not relying on any meal information (eg burger, burrito, taco etc), as these cannot be relied on due to the huge variation in the marketplace.

I know Google is working hard to improve the database, and hopefully it will become more useful for combination meals as their hard work continues.

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

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