Data standardisation

A standardised system for classifying and describing food makes it easier to compare data from different sources and perform more detailed types of data analysis.

EFSA has developed a standardised food classification and description system called FoodEx2 (version 2 of the EFSA Food classification and description system for exposure assessment).

  • The system consists of descriptions of a large number of individual food items aggregated into food groups and broader food categories in a hierarchical parent-child relationship.
  • Central to the system is a core list of food items or generic food descriptions that represent the minimum level of detail needed for intake or exposure assessments. More detailed terms can be found on the “extended list”. A parent-child relationship exists between a core list food item and its related extended list food items. The terms of the core and extended list may be aggregated in different ways according to the needs of the different food safety domains.
  • The current version has seven hierarchies: five domain-specific and a general purpose one available for the users, and a service hierarchy for the management of the terminology. Facets are used to add further detail to the information provided by the food list term. Facets are collections of additional terms describing properties and aspects of foods from various perspectives.

EFSA has established a collaboration for the use of FoodeEx2 with several institutions. Among these, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.