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Statistics on food consumption are provided by the Department of Health (DH) and statistics on food purchases are provided by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).  Both these include estimates of the nutritional content of the food based on the same nutrient composition data. Defra also provide statistics on food waste, food transport and food chain productivity. Statistics on food safety are provided by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).


Annual report of incidents
Department: Food Standards Agency
The release includes an appendix presenting numbers and types of incidents, reported to the Food Standards Agency, that have the potential to impact on the safety of food. The release adopts a broad definition of such incidents, in terms of their character, severity and the channel via which they are reported. It acknowledges that reporting may be incomplete.
Family Food
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
A report on the Expenditure and Food Survey.
Food Chain Total Factor Productivity
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Secondary analysis to calculate productivity of the food chain using already published National Statistcs. Current price estimates of turnover, purchases and labour are deflated using price indices to get volume indices. Consumption of fixed capital volume series are obtained directly. Indices are combined to get an index of output and an index of inputs for food retail, food manufacture, food wholesale and non-residential catering. These combine to give indices for the whole food chain.
Food Statistics Pocket book
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Provides a concise round-up of statistics on food covering the economic, social and environmental aspects of the food we eat.
Food Transport Indicators
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The Food Transport Indicators give details of UK urban food transport, HGV transport of food for UK consumption, air freight of food and total CO2 emissions from food transport based on information from the Department of Transport, HMRC and others.
Food and You
Department: Food Standards Agency
The Food and You survey povides evidence of public food safety attitudes, reported behaviour and knowledge of recommended food safety practices.
Local Authority Food Law Enforcement returns
Department: Food Standards Agency
The release summarises local authority activity in relation to food law enforcement at food establishments. It includes summary statistics on the numbers of inspections conducted as well the outcomes of these inspections.
National Diet and Nutrition Survey
Department: Public Health England
Food consumption, nutrient intakes and nutritional status of the UK population - adults and children from 18 months upwards. Results are presented by age/sex sub-groups.
National Diet and Nutrition Survey (Rolling Programme)
Department: Food Standards Agency
The Food Standards Agency took lead responsibility for publication of NDNS statistics for the 1st year of the new Rolling Programme (publication date February 2010). For the 2nd year (published in July 2011), and all subsequent years, lead responsibility has transferred to Dept of Health. As a result, these statistics are now referenced under the new Theme "Health & Social Care", and new Topic "Lifestyle & Behaviours"
National Diet and Nutrition Survey (Scotland)
Department: Food Standards Agency
Food consumption, nutrient intakes and nutritional status of the Scottish population - adults and children from 18 months upwards. Results are presented by age/sex sub-groups.

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Food consumption statistics are from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey run by DH. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) rolling programme is a continuous cross-sectional survey of the food consumption, nutrient intakes and nutritional status of people aged 18 months and older living in private households in the UK. It covers all four countries of the UK and is designed to be representative of the UK population.

Food purchase statistics are from the Family Food Module of the Living Costs and Food Survey. Statistics cover all households in the UK and the data is collected continuously throughout the year. They show trends in expenditure, purchases by type of food and demographic characteristics, and estimates of average energy and nutrient intakes based on food purchases. Historically the survey was known as the National Food Survey and there are estimates for some foods going back to 1940.

Household food and drink waste linked to food and drink purchases bridge the gap between food purchases and food consumption. These statistics are published within the heading of Family Food. Estimates are based on a household bin survey carried out by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in 2007 and a kitchen diary survey in 2008. Statistics show that approximately fifteen percent of all the food and drink purchases that could have been eaten are wasted. Wastage rates are shown for different types of food and drink and for various nutrients.

Food transport indicators include four key indicators that measure the environmental and social impact of food transport for UK consumers: urban food kilometres, HGV food kilometres, air food kilometres and CO2 emissions from food transport. Most of the data is sourced from National Statistics separately published by the Department for Transport and HM Revenue and Customs.

Statistics on food safety cover reported incidents and enforcement activity. The first annual report on food safety incidents was published in May 2007. This and later reports show how many food incidents the Agency handled in a year, and what action was taken to protect consumers. Reports on the enforcement of food law by local authorities (LAs) across the UK are based on LA monitoring data. The monitoring data in 2008/09 is the first provided under the new monitoring system, LAEMS (Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System) and provides, for the first time, comprehensive data on UK food business compliance levels.

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Technical Data

Sampling frame

The Living Costs and Food (LCF) sample for Great Britain is a multi-stage stratified random sample with clustering. It is drawn from the Small Users file of the Postcode Address File (the Post Office’s list of addresses). The Northern Ireland sample is drawn as a random sample of addresses from the Land and Property Services Agency list. 

The LCF has been weighted to reduce the effect of non-response bias and produce population totals and means. The weights are produced in two stages. First, the data are weighted to compensate for non-response (sample-based weighting). Second, the sample distribution is weighted so that it matches the population distribution in terms of region, age group and sex (population-based weighting). 

Purchased quantities and portion sizes

Using the recorded diaries and interviews the survey records:

• weight/volume and amount paid for all food and drink brought home (including free food)
• amount paid for takeaway meals and snacks eaten at home. Defra estimates portion size
• amount paid for all food and drink consumed away from home and type of meal, and
• free food eaten within the household and away from home

For household purchases, the volumes are collected in the diaries and through till receipts. This is not possible for eating out, takeaways and some instances of free food. For these items Defra uses estimated portion sizes to calculate weight/volume and in turn, nutrient intakes. Where possible, whole meals eaten out are split into food components.


Estimated nutrient intakes are calculated using nutrient composition data supplied by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The majority of the data is from the FSA’s nutrient analysis programme, supplemented by values from manufacturers and retailers. Each of the 500 food codes in the LCF is made up of a number of sub-codes with nutrient composition data attached. A weighted average nutrient composition is calculated for each food code based on estimates of the market share of each sub-code. The nutrient composition data are updated on a rolling basis to keep information in line with new or reformulated products. All nutrient compositions are based on edible food and take into account inedible waste, for example, banana skins.

Trends and ticks

Trend indicators and reliability ticks are published alongside many of the estimates within this publication. The aim of these quality assessments is to make estimates on purchases, expenditure and intakes easier to interpret and use. In all cases, the method is approximate and based on sampling errors ignoring any other kinds of error.

The reliability ticks come directly from the approximate standard errors of the estimates.  They indicate how reliable the estimate is by looking at the relative standard errors of the estimate. 

Trend indicators in the form of an arrow are intended to provide a guide as to whether there is a short-term trend. Four years is chosen as the period over which to check for the presence of a statistically significant trend, since it is considered long enough to show a trend and short enough to be current.

For more information on methodology see the Family Food website.

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  • Household Reference Person (HRP)

    The HRP is the person who; owns the household accommodation; is legally responsible for the rent of the accommodation or; has the household accommodation by virtue of their employment or personal relationship to the owner who is not a member of the household. If more than one person meets these criteria the HRP will be the one with the higher income. If the incomes are the same then the eldest is chosen.

  • Sodium

    Salt is also called sodium chloride. It is the sodium in salt that can be bad for your health and the nutrient that is reported in Family Food. Salt = sodium x 2.5

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Melanie Riley

Email: Melanie.riley@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1904 455359

DEFRA Foss House Kings Pool 1-2 Peasholme Green York YO1 7PX

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