The European Food Consumption Validation Project: conclusions and recommendations

E. J. de Boer, N. Slimani, P. van 't Veer, H. Boeing, M. Feinberg, C. Leclercq, Ellen Trolle, P. Amiano, L. F. Andersen, H. Freisling, A. Geelen, U. Harttig, I. Huybrechts, A. Kaic-Rak, L. Lafay, I. T. Lillegaard, J. Ruprich, J. H. de Vries, M. C. Ocke

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Background/Objectives: To outline and discuss the main results and conclusions of the European Food Consumption Validation (EFCOVAL) Project. Subjects/Methods: The EFCOVAL Project was carried out within the EU Sixth Framework Program by researchers in 11 EU countries. The activities focused on (1) the further development of the EPIC-Soft software (the software developed to conduct 24-h dietary recalls (24-HDRs) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study) and the validation of the 2-day non-consecutive 24-HDR method using EPIC-Soft, (2) defining and investigating the applicability of the most appropriate dietary assessment method to younger age groups and expanding the applicability of the software for use in exposure assessment of some potentially hazardous chemicals and (3) to improve the methodology and statistical methods that estimate usual intake distributions from short-term dietary intake information and develop a methodology to quantify uncertainty in usual intake distributions. Results: The preexisting EPIC-Soft application was reprogrammed into a Windows environment and more than 60 new specifications were implemented in the software. A validation study showed that two non-consecutive EPIC-Soft 24-HDRs are suitable to estimate the usual intake distributions of protein and potassium of European adult populations. The 2-day non-consecutive 24-HDRs in combination with a food propensity questionnaire also appeared to be appropriate to rank individuals according to their fish and fruit and vegetable intake in a comparable way in five European centers. Dietary intake of (young) children can be assessed by the combination of EPIC-Soft 24-HDRs and food recording booklets. The EPIC-Soft-standardized method of describing foods is useful to estimate dietary exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals such as specific flavoring substances. With the developed Multiple Source Method, repeated non-consecutive 24-HDR data in combination with food propensity data can be used to estimate the population distribution of the usual intake by estimating the individual usual intakes. Conclusions: The findings provide sufficient evidence to conclude that the repeated 24-HDR using EPIC-Soft for standardization in combination with a food propensity questionnaire and modeling of usual intake is a suitable method for pan-European surveillance of nutritional adequacy and food safety among healthy adults and maybe in children aged 7 years and older. To facilitate this methodology in other European countries, the next step is to provide and standardize an implementation plan that accounts for maintenance and updates, sampling designs, national surveillance programs, tailored capacity building and training, and linkage to food composition and occurrence databases. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011) 65, S102-S107; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.94
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Pages (from-to)102-107
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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