Can you point me to some good source where I can find exact food category of a food item. Example;

  1. Homestyle Potato Salad -> food|deli|ready_to_eat_meals|prepared_deli_salads|potato_salad
  2. V/K Veggie Egg Rolls -> food|frozen_food|frozen_snacks|frozen_egg_rolls

There are many foods which are straightforward, but there are some which creates confusion. For example, where should "Pre-Sliced Barbecue Chicken Breast" should go ?

  • 2
    Welcome to Seasoned Advice. I am not sure what you are after. Potato soup, where i live, is available hot at the deli counter, ready to eat in the refridgerated section and frozen. How would that be catergorized?
    – Johannes_B
    Jan 10, 2021 at 7:48

2 Answers 2


This is impossible for most items.

If you're creating a shop, you have to choose how to categorise things to make the most sense (or the most sales); you also have to choose the categories. If you're not creating a shop but trying to match existing shops, realise that they don't all decide the same. For example in one supermarket granulated sugar is in the aisle labelled "tea and coffee", in another it's under "home baking", and those supermarkets' websites match their physical stores. Presumably you get to decide what categories are available. That doesn't make it any easier.

The question of whether a hamburger is a sandwich is not just a good example of the difficulty of categorising food, but of the fuzziness of categories in human life.


What you’re looking for would be considered a type of ‘controlled vocabulary’, possibly a ‘thesaurus’. (Note that ‘Roget’s thesaurus’ is a ‘synonym ring’ and not what the library & information science community calls a ‘thesaurus’). When an item can be filed under more than one category, it’s called ‘multiple hierarchy’ or sometimes ‘multiple inheritance’

But trying to search for ‘thesaurus’ on most internet search engines is going to think that you’re looking for a synonym so pretty useless. Instead, I would suggest searching for ‘ontology’ which can also include other relationships between items (so Apple is an ingredient in applesauce, etc). But you’ll need to find one that’s tailored to your purpose, as a food ontology for farmers is going to focus on different items and relationships than one for someone who works in a zoo.

Here are some:

… but I’m not aware of any specifically for grocery stores to categorize products like you’re asking. It’s possible that FoodOn has something you can use, but I’ve never dug deeply into it.

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