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European food consumption validation

Final Report Summary - EFCOVAL (European food consumption validation)

The overall objective of the EFCOVAL project was to continue the work initiated by EFCOSUM. The main activities of EFCOVAL focussed on three main objectives:
1) the upgrade, adaptation, and validation of the repeated 24-hour recall method using EPICSoft;
2) expanding the applicability of the upgraded software program to younger age groups and for use in exposure assessment and
3) to improve the methodology and statistical methods that translate short-term dietary intake information to usual intake estimates. In this third objective also the issue of the quality of the data in order to give information on the error in the estimate was addressed.

In the first year of the project the technical environment and hosting of the website was build and established. The website hosts all web-based activities for the EFCOVAL consortium for (secured) intra-as well as (public) internet communication of data and results: http://www.efcoval.eu. During the project both public and secured (partner) sites have frequently been updated with information regarding electronic newsletter, reports and announcements.

In total, the EFCOVAL consortium prepared five newsletters during the project. All newsletters can be downloaded from the website and contain information about the project, summaries of some of the work performed and important meetings during the project. Furthermore, the overall results of the project were presented and discussed during the EFCOVAL closing conference held on 9-10 September 2009 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The aim was to disseminate the results and its applicability for pan-European dietary monitoring was discussed. The closing conference was open for people interested in the results of EFCOVAL, from international and national organisations in nutrition and health, including authorities, industry and science. In particular, potential users of the EPIC-Soft program, including policymakers, representatives from governmental and scientific organisations in public health and nutrition were invited to attend the conference. About 80 delegates from 21 EU countries and some from overseas (United States, Brazil) attended the meeting. On the second day (Thursday 10 September) the overall findings of the EFCOVAL project were discussed with the audience and an expert panel. This panel included persons from EFSA, WHO, and experts on nutritional monitoring surveys in adults and children. The conference was closed by presenting the overall (preliminary) conclusions of the EFCOVAL project. A summary of this event can be downloaded from the website. Furthermore, the overall conclusions and recommendations of the project will be published in the special issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Due to the extensive network which was used to disseminate the results people from the fields of politics, statistics, nutrition are now aware of the adapted standardised computerised 24-hour dietary recall method EPIC-Soft for pan-European dietary monitoring. Several EU member states and EU institutes showed their interest in the program and the work performed in the project. In the third reporting period, additional initiatives to support a pan-European food consumption survey have commenced in parallel to EFCOVAL.

Other EU institutions, including the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) expressed a high interest to use EPIC-Soft and related tools as the method of choice in a planned pan-EU survey. In March 2010, EFSA announced its planned implementation of a pan-EU survey under the proposed acronym EU MENU http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/datex100212.htm

A pan-European survey could both serve (part of the) national needs as well as the pan-European needs for food consumption data, it is recommended to search for options of combined national and international financial support. As a first step in this direction, in February 2010, members of EFSA's advisory forum signed a declaration supporting the establishment of a pan-European food consumption survey http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/eumenu/docs/eumenudeclarationen.pdf.

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