Food consumption data are a key element of EFSA's risk assessment activities, forming the basis of dietary exposure assessment at the European level. In 2011, EFSA released the Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database, gathering consumption data from 34 national surveys representing 66,492 individuals from 22 European Union member states. Due to the different methodologies used, national survey data cannot be combined to generate European estimates of dietary exposure. This study was executed to assess how existing consumption data and the representativeness of dietary exposure and risk estimates at the European Union level can be improved by developing a 'Compiled European Food Consumption Database'. To create the database, the usual intake distributions of 589 food items representing the total diet were estimated for 36 clusters composed of subjects belonging to the same age class, gender and having a similar diet. An adapted form of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) method was used for this, with a number of important modifications. Season, body weight and whether or not the food was consumed at the weekend were used to predict the probability of consumption. A gamma distribution was found to be more suitable for modelling the distribution of food amounts in the different food groups instead of a normal distribution. These distributions were combined with food correlation matrices according to the Iman-Conover method in order to simulate 28 days of consumption for 40,000 simulated individuals. The simulated data were validated by comparing the consumption statistics of the simulated individuals and food groups with the same statistics estimated from the Comprehensive Database. The opportunities and limitations of using the simulated database for exposure assessments are described.
Keywords: Iman–Conover method; National Cancer Institute (NCI) method; acute; chronic dietary exposure; consumption intakes; logistic regression.