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

E.J. de Boer, N. Slimani, H. Boeing, M. Feinberg, C. Leclerq, E. Trolle, P. Amiano, L.F. Andersen, H. Freisling, A. Geelen, U. Harttig, I. Huybrechts, A. Kaic-Rak, L. Lafay, I.T.L. Lillegaard, J. Ruprich, J.H.M. de Vries, M.C. Ocke

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27 Citations (Scopus)


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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S1-S4
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • epic-soft software
  • dietary exposure
  • calibration
  • centers


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