The estimation of food consumption, the intake of nutrients and exposure to contaminants is of increasing interest in Public Health as a basis for directing Food Safety and Nutrition lines of action and as a predictive method for determining the state of health of population groups.
In addition, one of the basic pillars on which risk assessment is founded is knowledge about the true levels of exposure of the population. This is why, when considering food safety, the availability of food consumption data which permits the use of correct methods of assessment is essential.
The dietary surveys or food or consumption surveys provide a quantitative and qualitative estimate of a food or group of foods in an individual over a set period of time.
The data collected provide information about eating habits, and the quality of diets as well as helping to assess exposure to dietary risks.
In Europe, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) collects food consumption data from the different Member States, and has published a European Food Consumption Database. In addition, the EU Menu project has been set up to improve the quality of data obtained in Europe and to make this data more easily comparable. This conducts surveys in Europe in accordance with a harmonised methodology approved by all Member States.
In Spain, the Spanish Agency for Food Safety (AESAN) conducted a National Survey of Spanish Dietary Intake (ENIDE) on the adult population. Its results can be seen in the corresponding section. In addition it has started a survey of the child and adolescent population (ENALIA) which is included in the EU Menu project.