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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



The pressures of modern life are producing rapid changes, both in our view of the world around us and in our eating habits. From grabbing a bite at the office to having a snack while on the move, current social trends show a rise in eating out. However, the medical industry has raised the red flag, warning of a less savory aspect accompanying this trend. It seems there is a growing risk of Europeans eating themselves into expensive medical bills. The rise in disorders and chronic diseases related to nutrition may be the final call for the maître d'.


At a time of rising concern about energy imbalance and careless dietary choices, out-of-home food and beverage consumption is thought to play a role in the increasing prevalence of obesity and diet-related chronic disease in Europe. This is especially important because out-of-home consumption is very popular among adolescents and young adults, who are still developing their eating habits and are in need of greater guidance.

HECTOR'S objective is to understand the market patterns of eating out for Europeans. In terms of demand, the project is studying how lifestyle and social and demographic factors determine consumer choices. As for supply, the project analyses the services provided by catering-related enterprises, including the small-to-medium sector. The data, relating to enterprises, aids our understanding of how menus are compiled, prepared and presented, and how both the specific needs of groups within populations and the requirements of safety principles are put into practice.

The study is based on records representing 50 000 people, collected between 1995 and 2004 through projects conducted in 15 Member States.

The HECTOR observations will improve understanding of all the factors determining consumption and better support the comparison between eating in and eating out. It also takes into consideration anthropometric characteristics, such as Body Mass Index and waist circumference, with eating patterns.


The project is developing a framework to enable the assessment and monitoring of within-home and out-ofhome choices, in terms of expenditure. The findings will enable strategies and concrete measures for promoting healthy out-of-home dietary choices available.

A 'Current and optimal out-of-home dietary patterns of European consumers Report', will provide a scientific basis for improving health through diet. Furthermore, if the industry accepts the project's recommendations to respond to what consumers want, we can still savour the experience of eating out at our favourite catering establishment, but in a healthier and more informed way.

List of Partners

  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens - Coordinating Centre (Greece)
  • Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (Italy)
  • Associazione Iblea per la Ricerca Epidemiologica (Italy)
  • Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (Germany)
  • Technische Universität München (Germany)
  • Kuluttajatutkimuskeskus (National Consumer Research Centre) (Finland)
  • Andrija Stampar School of Public Health (Finland)
  • Croatian National Institute of Public Health (Croatia)
  • Ministry of Health, Department of Primary Health Care (Albania)
  • National Food and Nutrition Institute (Poland)
  • Universiteit Gent (Belgium)
  • Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Vienna (Austria)
  • Faculdade de Ciências da Nutrição e Alimentação da Universidade do Porto (Portugal)
  • Department of Medical and Public Health Services, Ministry of Health (Cyprus)
  • University of Tromsø (Norway)
  • Gastropol Group (Poland)
  • Kobatsiari BROS (Greece)
  • Hochschule Wadensil (Switzerland)
  • BVBA De Appelier (Belgium)
  • National Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition (Hungary)
  • Agricultural University of Athens (Greece)
  • Coca-Cola Services (Belgium)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK)
  • UNISELF, Gestão e Exploração de Restaurantes e Empresas (Portugal)
  • Culinor (Belgium)
  • Michele Triolo actino as il Mezzogiorno (Belgium)
  • LTC Zagreb d.o.o. (Croatia)
  • Studentsamskipnaden i Tromsø (Norway)
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (France)
  • Consumer Association New INKA (Greece)
  • McDonald's Europe Limited (UK)
  • German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (Germany)
  • Unilever Nederland Holdings, Unilever Research & Development Vlaardingen (The Netherlands)
  • Georgios Tsilihristos (Greece)
Full title:
Eating out: habits, determinants, and recommendations for consumers and the European catering sector
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Antonia Trichopoulou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens,
EC Scientific Officers:
Isabelle de Froidmont-Görtz,
Wilfried Diekmann,
EU contribution:
€ 1.2M
Coordination Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top