The purpose of this paper is to succinctly review the origin of US dietary surveys, the challenges and limitations of obtaining dietary intake data, the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990, the integrated US federal food survey, and the development of the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) automated multiple-pass method. The USDA has monitored the food consumption patterns of Americans since the late 1890s. In 2002, the US Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA integrated their data collection efforts, with data now collected on a continuous basis. Two 24-hour dietary recalls are obtained using USDA's automated multiple-pass method. By combining their respective areas of expertise, the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services have increased research opportunities for scientists and provided data foundational for establishing programs and public policy.