EFSA new food consumption database

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published an overview of its first Comprehensive Food Consumption Database, a new source of information on food consumption in the European Union. This source of information contains data from a total of 32 different dietary surveys from 22 Member States.

The work on this new database began in 2008, when Member States started gathering data for EFSA from national dietary surveys in their countries.

The database will play a key role in the evaluation of the risks related to possible hazards in food in the EU and will allow more precise estimates of consumers’ exposure to such hazards, a fundamental step in EFSA’s risk assessment work.

Summary statistics from the database enable quick screening for chronic and acute exposure to substances that may be found in the food chain. These statistics will be available to the public on the EFSA web site.

The database will also be relevant in the future for other fields of EFSA’s work, such as the assessment of nutrient intakes of the EU population. In the area of nutrition, the analysis of dietary intake data is essential to assess how dietary intakes compare with recommended intake levels, as well as to monitor progress over time.

The data in the data base was obtained using different methodologies, therefore making this unsuitable for direct country-to-country comparisons. Nevertheless, EFSA is working with Member States to develop food consumption surveys which will allow the collection and analysis of comparable data in EU countries. This initiative is known as “What’s on the Menu in Europe?” (EU MENU); several pilot studies under this initiative are due to be completed by 2012.

Source: EFSA Press communication.