Information provided for informational purposes only

Note: This information is provided for reference purposes only. Although the information provided here was accurate and current when first created, it is now outdated.


TRAC 5/27/98

Staff Background Paper # 3.2


USDA's Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys

EPA uses the food consumption data to estimate pesticide residue exposure from the diet and to determine pesticide tolerance levels to meet the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) health-based safety standard for pesticide residues in all foods. FQPA requires the Secretary of Agriculture to provide the EPA with information on food consumption patterns of a statistically valid sample of infants and children. In response, USDA is conducting the Supplemental Children's Survey (SCS) to the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. (CSFII) 1994-96 to provide a larger sample of children to meet the 1996 mandate.

History of Food Consumption Surveys:

USDA has been conducting nationally representative food surveys since the 1930's. The most recent survey to be completed was the CSFI] 1994-96, in which about 15,000 individuals of all ages provided two independent days of 24-hour recall data through in-person interviews. The CSFII collects intake data in all seasons and in all regions of the U.S. Data for all three years of the survey are available on CD-ROM.

Data collection for the SCS began in late 1997 and will continue through 1998 utilizing the same methods employed in the CSFII 1994-96. For infants and children under 6 years of age, a parent or knowledgeable care giver is asked to provide the information. For children 6 to 9 years, the child is interviewed with adult assistance. Data retrieval is used to supplement information for those eating occasions away from home, including contacting babysitters, day care providers, and schools. When completed, dietary intake data combined from the CSFII 1994-96 and the SCS will be available for 10,000 children up to 18 years of age.

Current Priorities:

Through an interagency agreement with EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, USDA is translating data on foods as consumed in the CSFU 1994-96 and the SCS into data that can be used for estimating pesticide residue exposures. Specifically, data from the surveys on foods "as consumed" will be expressed as consumption of approximately 400 Raw Agricultural Commodities (RACs), as defined by EPA. A translation example is attached for a commonly consumed food, cheese pizza with vegetables. During the translation, specific ingredients are identified and linked to the appropriate RAC(s). Some ingredients are matched to more than one RAC, e.g., sugar is proportioned between beet sugar and sugar cane. For each food reported in the survey, consumption data will be expressed on the basis of grams of each RAC consumed per kilogram of the person's body weight.


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updated May 22, 1998