"Foodcounts for life and Lifetimecounts"

... although ultimately what counts is what works.


A compilation of ad-hoc research papers supporting our Foodcounts® proposition.

One that is designed to improve public awareness towards healthy eating, simplifying food education for children, reducing food waste and with the broader social  costs associated with food packaging

The evolving research initially focused on three previous historic submissions to Innovate UK. Plus a separate submission to the UK Parliamentary Health Select Committee. It later examined the broader importance of Food. With special attention to our ethos of "foodcounting" insofar as what - and how much - we should eat. Relying on publicly available data on the  nutritional analysis of all identifiable food items. And combined with the the  Recommended Daily Allowances and Reference Intakes publised by the UK health authorities (and other state actors).

All research is snapshot and published as open source in good faith.

By Mike Allott (for Mike and Denise Allott and Corporata Ltd)

© 2002 to present day


First Innovate Submission 2002

Foodcounts was conceived 20 years ago by a small group of contract system designers. The internet domain was purchased in February 2000. The trademark and software specification was registered with the UK Patent Office in November 2000.

Foodcounts, as a novel food management system, was first presented as a funding proposal to the DTI in 2002, under the Smart Feasibility award and inspired by the Foresight Directive. (see a non-technical synopsis)

Second Innovate Submission 2015

The core Foodcounts technology was refined to support a proposition of simplified food education

"Foodcounts for Kids" was devised as a flash card learning tool to encourage basic engagement in nutrition. It offered child-based, fun-family interaction. It also provided an encoded tool to access upper levels of food information data (see a non-technical synopsis)        

Third Innovate Submission 2016

Foodcounts and foodcounting means more food economy and less waste. In 2016 we submitted a proposal on food waste reductions as part of an Innovate UK initiative (see a non-technical submission )

Again the core Foodcounts technology was enhanced to deliver a system of food larder management, to help plan and control a reduction in food waste. This was proposed as an Innovate call, in tandem with a leading food retailer 

Submission to Health Select Committee 2004

We submitted 10 specific recommendations on the subject of food consumption and the consequences on public health. See Parliamentary Submissions



The Foodcounts proposition is still a work in progress. The references shown above summarise the broad structure of registered contributions so far presented in a public forum (still to be more precisely edited). The following references are adhoc compilation of the aspects, and the core principles of Foodcounts, and the Foodcounting ethos. These are at presented and shown in no particular order.    

Diet, and Nutrition Optimality

The Foodcounts food-diary system provided an important tool to gather information on our daily diet and to analyse its composition. It did not offer guidance on food selection or food choice, other than to rely on the advice and recommendations of public health authorities and to rely on the golden rule of "five-a-day". In all we monitored 41 macronutrients and micronutrients contained within a preferred personal diet, and we targeted the goal of "optimal nutrition" as defined under Recommended Dietary Allowance tables.

What does Foodcounts mean?

The Foodcounts slogan has two meanings. First, it means food is necessary to, and determines the quality of our existence. Second, it means food has mathematical values - both in terms of nutritional benefits, food distribution, and the broader environmental cost.

Essential nutrition

Foodcounts means an information-logic designed to promote nutrition monitoring using a food diary system to add-up our daily intake of:

In essence, foodcounts® begins with a system for selecting and measuring what we eat , following guidelines on daily intake levels, and within an optimal diet-economy.

Nutrition optimality

We define optimal nutrition as a diet that follows the guidelines set by by the recognised public health bodies and in the main we adopt those guidelines set by the European Union (although we also offer comparisons with those guidelines set by UK and US authorities where there are significant differences).
Optimal nutrition relies on a scientific mainstream consensus and seeks to avoid the information-anarchy of nutrition exceptionalists and cranks.
Note: we distinguish optimal nutrition from optimum nutrition. "Optimum" presupposes a consensus on absolutes which in reality does not exist in the filed of nutrition science.
Essential to optimal nutrition is palatability: a diet that is not pleasing to an individual's taste is unlikely to be sustained.
We only monitor the intake of those nutrients that are recognised as essential to human health and for which composition tables (analysed-food-items) are maintained under the separate authorities of the UK and US governments. These nutrients are the Calorie (energy-giving) macronutrients of Protein, the 5 types of Fats, the 6 types of Carbohydrates, the non-energy nutrients of fibre and salt, plus the 12 named vitamins and the 15 named minerals which make up the micronutrients for which recommended daily intake levels are published.
In all we are monitoring 41 macronutrients and micronutrients contained within a preferred personal diet, and targeting optimal nutrition as the goal (either in the real sense or in a theoretical sense).
Broader efficiencies of pursuing Nutrition Optimality will flow from an added inventory-system to allow cost-benefit-analysis comparisons between fresh, frozen, canned or dried variations of the same foodstuffs.  The inventory-system also allows for nutritional degradation-values, and wastage-values to be counted.

Key definition: Fundamental Foods

To enable us to simplify the process of nutrition monitoring we have coined the term  fundamental foods to describe a foodstuff that is a readily available whole-food and one that has also been analysed for its nutrient composition by either, or both, of the 2 national organisations responsible for the maintenance of nutrient data (the American USDA nutrient database and the British McCance and Widdowson composition of foods database). We have isolated around 200 such fundamental foods (named foods) which essentially constitute the ingredients of the English speaking first-world diet. In reality, for most individuals and families the number of fundamental foods in a monthly shopping basket will be less than 100. These foodstuffs are coded to form the core-identities of our system. Using a proprietary wizard these fundamental foods map initially to all other analysed food items (8,000), and ultimately to all seller-food-items (25,000 +)

A system to encourage a diet of fundamental foods

The accuracy of nutrition monitoring is dependent on the proportion of measurable fundamental foods contained within the daily diet.  Most seller-food-items (i.e. foods purchased in food-stores and which are identifiable by a barcode) will have been combined and processed from fundamental foods, and the nutrition values of these composite foods will always be subject to a margin of error. And, because nutrient analysis is by sampling and never absolute, margins of error vary from 10% -100%. Moreover, the labelling of these composite foods does not normally provide any detailed analysis of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Until all food manufacturers provide full composition data in an accessible form, a daily diet that avoids processed and convenience foods will always be easier to count and will offer a more reliable and detailed nutrition analysis.

Healthy Eating: measured portions

The success of a food monitoring system is very much dependent on the accuracy of weight measurement and the ability to translate 100g composition tables into recommended portions, or in estimating the size of any given portion. A scale-measurement system coupled with the imaging comparisons (as recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund) will in due course stimulate second-sensing in portion measurement sufficient to satisfy meaningful nutrition monitoring.

Foodcounts for Kids

A new idea for simplifing food nutrition learning. It will encourage healthy-eating and is designed specifically for kids and families. It presents nutrition values on key-fundamental foods in an easy-to-use, expandable, visual format. The system uses tactile food cards as the prime discovery method. These are the building blocks for early-learning.

 QR scan code for Foodcounts Foodcounts®

go to new Foodcards visuals


The vocabulary of food: resolving ambiguity

Those who consume food and those who analyse food speak a different language, to an extent that often-simple propositions concerning nutrition monitoring become confusing. At worst, these ambiguities present a serious barrier to a proper understanding on perhaps the most important consumer subject that directly affect us all.

It would not be productive for us to present a word-list of all food and nutrition related definitions (such glossaries are widely available elsewhere). However in order to simplify this presentation we now set down our definitions concerning those core-meanings upon which our food diary system is configured. So, here is the main semantic base of our food-diary-system proposition:
  • Food: any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth
  • Foodstuff: a substance suitable for consumption as food and forming a basic component of the human diet
  • Food-value: the nutritional value of a foodstuff
  • Whole food: a foodstuff that has been minimally processed and is generally free from additives
  • Fundamental food: a whole food that has been officially analysed to determine its composition and that is a named-food within the the British and American nutrient databases
  • Food-item: any foodstuff that has been uniquely coded and can be identified (by and large) from its code
  • Analysed-food-item: any foodstuff that is itemised within either of the British or American nutrient databases
  • Seller-food-item: any foodstuff that has been itemised as part of the Universal Product Code system and that can be identified by a unique barcode
  • Common food: a named whole food that is known by most consumers and is available from most (EU) food-sellers

A system to simplify food categories (food-id)

Food is categorised in 2 ways. First, all  food-sellers use shopping-aisle systems (driven by consumer taste and preference). Second, food analysts classify by nutritional type, essentially using a taxonomy based on shared chemical features. The foodcounts® system of food categories (food-id ™) is based on the principles of core-identity to create a list of fundamental foods (and ingredient foods) so that the main consumer and scientific information-sources can be harmonised, and thereby improve consumer understanding and accessibility.

Plan the future as well as recording the past

Most food diaries are essentially a daily log of food already consumed and food diaries are now recognised as an essential and well proven system if weight-loss or weight gain is the prime objective. However the emphasis of the foodcounts® diary system is in forward planning, using a dairy in its more general sense as a time management tool. Using precise nutrition monitoring it offers a systematic road-map to an optimal nutrient balance that satisfies the official EU guidelines on healthy eating (if this is our goal).

Nutrition monitoring: Summary

We give particular attention to the innovation recommendations of the Foresight FCCI Panel in developing a system-design that allows for new, more realistic standards of food categorisation and labelling; we also allow for the provision of considerably increased information on fundamental foods and food ingredients. In particular all aspects of our data bank interface will incorporate a free “access-for-all” ethos. Furthermore, by profiling individual customer needs on health status and general lifestyle choices, a range of freely available enquiry applications are made possible, offering new options on  food selection.  
The existence of the Internet, with the add-on use of mobile phone applications (apps), will provide the main on-line food diary mechanism for nutrition monitoring.
However, a manual system based on flash cards, look-up tables and daily entry sheets will form the educational core and offer a universal first-level access . We have invested in a licence to the UK nutrient database which with the open-source nutrient database maintained in the US will be consolidated to form the the prime nutrient information source (available on line or in look-up tables).

A compilation of research papers

Foodcounts is a research project combining the work of what was Corporata Ltd (was and is, Consensus Software Ltd and Mike and Denise Allott).  This is the homepage for that cumulative research and the consequent recommendations over the past 15 years.

Foodcounts Proposal: First Report

Foodcounts: First image presentations

Foodcounts Diary System (first outline)

Foodcounts Fundamental Foods

Foodcounts Food Diary (first prototype)

Foodcounts: 7 counts of nutrition monitoring

UK Nutrient Databank

USDA Nutrient Databank

Foodcounts Infopods

Food Information Service (early report)

Parliamentary Submissions



go to site map for full alpha list of documents

QR scan code for Foodcounts

A food information system


Mike Allott Corporata Ltd




Of special interest to other researchers


The core Foodcounts ethos:

The tables below list the key nutrients, vitamins and minerals which form the chemical composition of food. Identifying and monitoring these elements within our daily diet, establishing their values against recommended norms, and identifying typical foodstuffs that help regulate these norms is the ethos upon which the Foodcounts is based. These tables are a snapshot research (including selected links to Wikipedia food definitions). Students and researchers of nutritional values should also seek additional validations. (Our primary sources: USDA, UK McCance and Widdowson, and EU)

Key Nutrients and recommended intakes

Substance Amount (males) Amount (females) Top Sources in Common Measures
Water 3.7 L/day 2.7 L/day iceberg lettuce, beer
Carbohydrates 130 g/day 130 g/day condensed milk, pie crust, barley
Protein 56 g/day 46 g/day duck, chicken, turkey, beef
Fiber 38 g/day 25 g/day barley, bulgur, legumes
Fat 20–35% of calories pie crust, white chocolate, trail mix
Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid (polyunsaturated) 17 g/day 12 g/day
alpha-Linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid (polyunsaturated) 1.6 g/day 1.1 g/day
Cholesterol As low as possible chicken giblets, turkey giblets, beef liver
Trans fatty acids As low as possible
Saturated fatty acids As low as possible white chocolate, coconut meat, ricotta cheese
Added sugar No more than 25% of calories condensed milk, deglet noor dates, white chocolate

Vitamins and Minerals

Nutrient EAR RDA/AI UL Unit Top Sources in Common Measures, USDA
Vitamin A 625 900 3000 µg turkey, carrot juice, pumpkin
Vitamin C 75 90 2000 mg orange juice, grapefruit juice, peaches
Vitamin D[4][5] 400 600 4000 IU sockeye salmon, swordfish, rainbow trout (also fortified foods and beverages)
Vitamin K NE 120 ND µg kale, collards, spinach
Vitamin B6 1.1 1.3 100 mg fortified cereals, chickpeas, sockeye salmon
α-tocopherol (Vitamin E) 12 15 1000 mg fortified cereals, tomato paste, sunflower seeds
Biotin (B7) NE 30 ND µg beef liver, egg, salmon
Calcium[4][5] 800 1000 2500 mg fortified cereals, condensed cow's milk, cheese
Chloride NE 2300 3600 mg table salt
Chromium NE 35 ND µg broccoli, turkey ham, grape juice
Choline NE 550 3500 mg beef liver, condensed milk, chicken
Copper 700 900 10000 µg beef liver, oysters, lobster
Cyanocobalamin (B12) 2.0 2.4 ND µg beef liver, turkey, clams
Fluoride NE 4 10 mg public drinking water
Folate (B9) 320 400 1000 µg enriched white rice, fortified cereals, enriched cornmeal
Iodine 95 150 1100 µg iodized salt
Iron 6 8 45 mg fortified cereals, turkey, chicken
Magnesium 330 400 350 mg buckwheat flour, trail mix, bulgur
Manganese NE 2.3 11 mg oat bran, whole grain wheat flour, bulgur
Molybdenum 34 45 2000 µg legumes, grain products, nuts and seeds
Niacin (B3) 12 16 35 mg fortified cereals, yellowfin tuna, sockeye salmon
Pantothenic acid (B5) NE 5 ND mg fortified cereals, beef liver, shiitake mushrooms
Phosphorus 580 700 4000 mg cornmeal, condensed milk, wheat flour
Potassium NE 4700 ND mg tomato paste, orange juice, beet greens
Riboflavin (B2) 1.1 1.3 ND mg spaghetti with meat sauce, beef liver, turkey
Selenium 45 55 400 µg Brazil nuts, rockfish, yellowfin tuna
Sodium NE 1500 2300 mg onion soup mix, miso, table salt
Thiamin (B1) 1.0 1.2 ND mg fortified cereals, enriched wheat flour, bread crumbs
Zinc 9.4 11 40 mg oysters, fortified cereals, baked beans

See separate tables on Fat and water soluble vitamins


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