Improving Data Accuracy of Commercial Food Outlet Databases

The authors analyzed commercially available data from five New Jersey communities to categorize food outlets based on the North American Industry Classification Codes. The authors integrated information from the databases with Internet searches and phone calls to refine the categorization of food outlets listed in the databases.

Key Findings:

  • There were substantial differences between the commercial food outlet database classifications and the researchers’ revised database classifications.
  • The reclassification found that there were three times as many convenience stores than indicated in the commercial database; one-seventh the number of supermarkets and grocery stores; and twice as many limited-service restaurants.

This research suggests that commercial food outlet databases provide a substantially healthier picture of community food sources than actually exists. The methodologies described may create a replicable approach to tailoring information from commercial databases for public health purposes.