Total diet studies (TDS) are used to gather information on chemical substances in food, thereby facilitating risk assessments and health monitoring. Candidate foods for inclusion in a TDS should represent a large part of a typical diet to estimate accurately the exposure of a population and/or specific population groups. There are currently no harmonised guidelines for the selection of foods in a TDS, and so the aim of this study was to explore the possibility of generating a harmonised approach to be used across Europe. Summary statistics data from the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) Comprehensive Food Consumption Database were used in this research, which provided data from national food consumption surveys in Europe. The chosen methodology for the selection of foods was based on the weight of food consumed and consumer rate. Using the available data, 59 TDS food lists were created, representing over 51 000 people across 17 countries and seven population groups. All TDS food lists represented > 85% of the populations' diets (85.9-96.3%), while the number of foods in the TDS food lists ranged from 15 to 102. Comparison of the TDS food lists indicated that the most commonly consumed foods included wheat bread and rolls, pastries and cakes, tomatoes, apples, bananas, and chicken, while cow's milk, tap water and orange juice were the most commonly consumed beverages across Europe. This work was complete to support EFSA and other institutions in the development of harmonised TDS into the future.
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