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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are." This quote by the 18th century French politician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a keen gastronome, perfectly reflects the aims of the EFCOVAL (European food consumption validation) project.

Europe is one of the most diverse entities on earth. It has more cultural variety than any nation, and as expected, it has very different traditions and tastes in food.

EFCOVAL is devoted to the development and validation of a European-wide food consumption survey instrument, designed to evaluate the intake not only of foods and nutrients, but also of potentially hazardous chemicals in the European population. The project results will be disseminated in the fields of statistics, nutrition, health and epidemiology, and will contribute to the improvement of future EU health policies.


The EFCOVAL initiative follows in the footsteps of the 'European Food Consumption Survey Method' project (EFCOSUM) and further develops and validates its achievements. EFCOSUM aimed to define a methodology for monitoring food consumption across Europe, using nationally representative samples taken in a comparable way from men and women of all ages.

EFCOVAL will build on the conclusions from EFCOSUM, namely that new pan-European food consumption surveillance at an individual level, based on uniform procedures and methodologies, is required. EFCOSUM advised the use of a repeated, non-consecutive 24-hour recall system and a strictly standardised procedure, for reliable and comparable transnational data collection. The EPIC-SOFT program is considered to be the first choice for collecting 24-hour recalls in European countries.

The overall objective of EFCOVAL is to continue the work initiated by EFCOSUM, and to further develop and validate the food consumption instrument (EPICSOFT) for assessing dietary intake; this is necessary for studying associations between (public) health and food safety issues in future pan-European monitoring surveys.

Most of the participants in the new project have already worked together in the past, and their experiences and previously acquired knowledge will be an important asset for its success.


The first objective of the project is to achieve Europeanwide implementation of the EFCOSUM-recommended method for undertaking dietary surveys, by expanding the predictions of the survey instrument. Attention will be given to dietary surveys among children, and to exposure to chemicals.

EPIC-SOFT will be at the core of the second objective. The software will be further developed and improved, to adapt it to more recent IT environments. Moreover, the instrument will be validated in 5 selected EU countries or regions with clearly different consumption patterns, to ensure a method valid for use in a pan- European setting.

The final objective of ECOVAL concentrates on the results of the instrument. The final goal of a pan- European dietary assessment tool is to provide policy makers with the information they require to address food quality and food safety issues.

EFCOVAL will be a crucial project for future EU health and safety policies because it provides a general overview of the dietary habits within Europe. It will also provide a detailed analysis of each region's particulars, and fuel the debate over who has the best quality food.

List of Partners

  • Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (The Netherlands)
  • German Institute of Human Nutrition (Germany)
  • Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research (Denmark)
  • Fundación Vasca de Innovación e Investigación Sanitarias (Spain)
  • Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France)
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (France)
  • Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (Italy)
  • Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (The Netherlands)
  • Wageningen University (The Netherlands)
  • University of Oslo (Norway)
  • National Institute of Public Health (Czech Republic)
  • Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments (France)
  • Akademija Medicinskih Znanosti Hrvatske (Croatia)
  • Prima Informatics (UK)
Full title:
European food consumption validation
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Evelien De Boer, Netherlands Organisation For Applied Scientific Research,
EC Scientific Officer:
Laurence Moreau,
EU contribution:
€ 2.6M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top