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Rationale and methods of the European Food Consumption Validation (EFCOVAL) Project

Nature Publishing Group
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  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Background/Objectives: The overall objective of the European Food Consumption Validation (EFCOVAL) Project was to further develop and validate a trans-European food consumption method to be used for the evaluation of the intake of foods, nutrients and potentially hazardous chemicals within the European population. Subjects/Methods: The EFCOVAL Project was carried out by 13 institutes from 11 European countries. The main activities were centered on the three main objectives of the project organized in different sub-projects. Results: In EFCOVAL, EPIC-Soft (the software developed to conduct 24-h dietary recalls (24-HDRs) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study) was reprogrammed and adapted according to prioritized specifications, resulting in a software program working under the Windows operating system. In parallel of the EPIC-Soft development, the repeated 24-HDR method using EPIC-Soft and a food propensity questionnaire was evaluated against biomarkers in 24-h urine collections and in blood samples among adults from Belgium, the Czech Republic, (the South of) France, the Netherlands and Norway. As a result from an expert workshop on a proposed dietary assessment method for children (4-12 years), the suggested method was tested in a feasibility study in Denmark and Spain among children of 4-5, 7-8 and 12-13 years. To ensure that collected data had sufficient detail in food description for the assessment of additives and contaminants to foods the EPIC-Soft databases were adapted. Finally, the EFCOVAL Consortium developed a statistical tool (Multiple Source Method) for estimating the usual intake and distribution, which has been tested using real food consumption data and compared with three other statistical methods through a simulation study. In addition, a methodology was developed to quantify uncertainty due to portion-size estimation in usual intake distributions. Conclusion: The findings of EFCOVAL 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. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011) 65, S1-S4; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.82

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