The database - known as FRIDa - has been launched as part of the FoodCAST project, and is open for all to use, say the Italian researchers.
Led by Francesco Foroni from the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste, the research team note that despite the importance of the issues in food research, and the relevance of understanding more about consumer choices, the current set of tools are "rather limited, outdated, or not available for non-commercial purposes to independent researchers who aim at developing their own research program."
"The FoodCast research image database (FRIDa) is an attempt to fill this gap by providing the scientific community with a flexible stimulus-set, validated on a sample of young healthy individuals and that could be used for neuroscientific investigations," said Foroni and his colleagues.
The team explained that FRIDa is a comprehensive collection of both food and non-food items that can be used for non-commercial purposes. The database tool has been validated and the results have been published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, they said.
"Food is often a compound of different edible ingredients (e.g., chicken croquettes are made of chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, etc.) raising the question of whether humans understand processed food as single natural entities or as handmade compounds," the team explained.
"It is important to understand how we process food differently in its original form compared to after being transformed."
The FoodCast Research Image Database includes 877 open-source images belonging to one of eight different categories: (1) natural-food, (2) transformed-food, (3) rotten-food, (4) natural-non-food items, (5) artificial food- related objects, (6) artificial objects, (7) animals, and (8) scenes.
Raffaella Rumiati, who worked on the database, explained that its archive has been fine-tuned to meet the requirements of the international scientific community.
Indeed, the tool has been validated on a sample of 73 healthy participants on standard variables (such as valence and familiarity) as well as on other variables specifically related to food items (like its perceived calorie content.
All of the images are copyright-free colour photographs, selected from a web-based search and resized to a standard dimension of 530x530 pixels.
By registering on the website you can download the pictures and validation data for each image.