To study how consumers’ diet quality and health may be affected by the food environment, or the number and types of food outlets available in their local communities, USDA’s Economic Research Service uses three proprietary datasets: Nielsen TDLinx (food-at-home (FAH) establishments), NPD ReCount (food-away-from-home (FAFH) establishments), and National Establishment Time Series (NETS) (establishments across all industries). This study compares the 2012 data in these three datasets to each other and to the 2012 Economic Census to determine the relative coverage of the food environment across the United States in each dataset. Findings show that NETS reports a higher number of FAH and FAFH establishments operating in the United States than does TDLinx or ReCount, and that the share of TDLinx matches to FAH establishments in NETS is higher than the share of ReCount matches to FAFH establishments in NETS. Findings also highlight the difficulty of including nontraditional FAH retailers, such as drug stores and dollar stores, while excluding establishments that do not sell food. In addition, the findings highlight the importance of using innovative techniques to gather information on FAFH establishments.


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