COST logo Eurocode 2 Food Coding System logo Comments and proposals



To Anders Møller, The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Section of Food Informatics, Institute for Food Research and Nutrition

From Elin B. Løken and Aase Borgejordet, Institute for Nutrition Research, University of Oslo

We welcome the revitalization of the Eurocode 2 as a food classification system for food consumption data relevant for European studies in nutritional epidemiology. We also support the overall objectives to identify and classify the foods that are nutritionally important in the diet of various European countries as well as in ethnic diets. However, after having made an attempt to use the modified core classification on the Norwegian diet, we think that the Eurocode 2 still need some refinement, and possibly some rethinking.

Our main concern is that the hierarchy contains too many small food groups at the sub-group level (group level 2), whereas many of the larger food groups at this level need to be subdivided at a level 3 (new?). We also think that the mixed products may be classified by the existing facet/descriptor system. In addition, we have added a few ethnic foods that are important in the general Norwegian diet or in certain geographical areas. These foods have distinct nutritional composition, but appears not to be covered by the present classification system. At the moment, we have no comments on how to classify the recipes.

Even though Norway participated in the trial years ago, we have no longer a description of the full system. Thus some of our suggestions may violate established and agreed coding rules, but as already mentioned, we hope that views from "outsiders" may throw some fresh light on the usefulness of the modified classification system.

Our suggestions for the proposed three level grouping system (plus a fourth level for the specific food items) are summarized in the tables below. We have deliberately used common names on the food groups, thinking that the scientific names may be found in the detailed coding list accompanying the Eurocode manual.

Where appropriate, we have listed storage codes from the existing system for reference, but all groups should be listed in the proposed logical order. It is important that the system is able to include new groups in the future. Thus "someone" should be responsible for allocating new storage code numbers, these may not be logical. If a coding support software is developed (preferably one that allows definition of alternative coding orders), hopefully most of the original coding numbers may be kept.

Substitute foods may be placed on level 3 in the level 2 group where it is used as a substitute. In addition, most food groups should end with an unspecified group, as survey respondents are not always able to tell what kind of meat, fish etc they have been eating. It is important to bear in mind that the main purpose of the Eurocode is to classify food consumption data, and that the obtained details depend heavily on the dietary survey method that has been used to collect this information. At level 2 the above suggestions may reduce the number of categories by about one third.

As already mentioned, since we donít have access to the full description, we have not reviewed the appropriateness of the numerous facets descriptors. But as a general comment we would like to point out that much of the finer details concerning for example thermal and non-thermal processing will not come out of the dietary research methods commonly used in large studies. In the tables we have used the following abbreviations for the five facets.

Editorial note
For documentation of the Eurocode descriptors currently defined, see
The Descriptor System, version 93/1.
Athermal treatment
Bnon-thermal treatment
Dcomponent added
Ecomponent removed

1. Milk and Milk Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
1.1 Milk, fresh (or liquid?) Fat content
+ from cow, goat ...
D: sugar, fruit, cocoa ...
E: casein (whey)
Incl. 1.3+1.5 (minor foods)
1.4 Yogurt and other fermented milk Fat content B: soured/fermented
D: sugar, fruit ...
Incl 1.6
Cream Fat content
+ dairy/non-dairy
B: soured
D: sugar, eggs ...
D = Ice cream and other milk/cream based desserts. Incl. substitutes
Cheese Type (hard, soft, fresh, whey)
+ fat content
E: casein (whey cheese) Whey cheese is a major sandwich spread in Norway

2. Eggs and Egg Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
2.1 Eggs, chicken      
  Eggs, other domestic birds Duck, quail, turkey, goose, ostrich ...   2.2+2.3+2.5+2.6
(minor foods)
  Eggs, wild birds Seagull ...   Used in coastal areas in Norway

3. Meat and Meat Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
Beef Beef, veal
+ product type (facet C)
C: fresh/frozen, salted, smoked ... Veal is a minor food
3.3 Pork Product type (facet C) C: fresh/frozen, salted, smoked, dry, canned ... Ham and bacon: combinations of facet C
3.4 Lamb Mutton, lamb
+ product type (facet C)
C: fresh/frozen, salted, smoked, dry ...  
3.10 Mammals, other Domestic (goat ...), wild (reindeer, mouse ...)    
3.13 Chicken Chicken, hen    
  Birds, other Domestic (turkey, duck, goose, ostrich ...), wild   3.9+3.14-3.16 Wild birds: sea, forest or mountain
3.17 Offal Organ (liver, kidney ...)
+ beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry ...
  3.18-3.21 (minor foods)
3.11 Meat products, mixed Sausages
Pate (incl liver)
Burger, meatballs
Substitutes (soy ...)
C: fresh (frankfurter ...), dry (salami ...) Meatballs, burgers are large products in Norway

Note: Specific cuts of carcase meat, chicken breast etc should, if available, be placed on the food item level.
Offal have quite different nutritional composition from carcase meat.

4. Fish and Fish Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
White fish Cod, flatfish, other (ocean, fresh water) C: fresh/frozen, salted, smoked ... White flesh, lean or low fat.
  Red fish Salmon, trout (domestic, ocean, fresh water) C: fresh/frozen, salted, smoked, canned ... Red flesh, moderate fat
  Dark fish Herring, mackerel, other
(tuna, eel ...)
C: fresh, salted, smoked, pickled, canned ... Dark flesh, high fat
  Common name ?? Shrimp, mussels ... C: fresh, canned 4.9+4.10 (minor products)
New Fish offal Liver, roe, tongue ...
Caviar, pate ...
  Liver and tongue in coastal areas
4.14 Fish products Breaded fillets ...
Fish cakes
Fish substitutes (crab sticks ...)
C: fresh, chilled, frozen, canned ...
D: bread, egg, milk ...
Excl caviar
Breaded fillets, fish cakes are major Norw. products
  "Marine and other aquatic" foods Seaweeds, insects, reptiles, frogs, snails, whale, seal ...   4.11-4.13+4.16 (minor foods, NOT fish)

Note: Fish should be classified in level 2 as broad categories according to fat content and color of the flesh.
Common family names should be used at level 3 with scientific names as scope notes.

5. Fats and Oils

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
5.1 Butter Butter, ghee ...    
5.2 Margarine Hard fat (% saturates + transfatty acids)   80 % fat
5.7 Fat spread, other Fat content
+ major type of oil
  < 80 % fat, incl. mix with butterfat
5.3 Animal fats Lard ...    
5.4 Marine oils Cod liver oil ...    
5.5 Vegetable fats/oils      
  Compound fats/oils     Various mixes

6. Grains and Grain Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
6.1 Wheat Flour, grain, flakes ... B or E?: Extraction rate Dry weight?
6.3 Rye Flour, flakes ... B or E?: Extraction rate  
6.5 Oat Flour, grain, flakes ...    
6.6 Corn (maize) Flour, flakes ...    
6.7 Rice Flour, grain, puffs ...    
  Grains, other Barley, millet, buckwheat ...   6.4+6.8-6.10 (minor products)
Grains, mixed Flour, grain, breakfast cereals ... D: sugar, dried fruit, nuts, fat ... Incl müsli etc
6.14 Pasta      
  Bread, soft Wheat, rye, mix
+ % wholemeal flour
D: liquid, sugar ... Made with yeast
  Bread, crisp/dry Type of flour
+ % wholemeal flour
  Incl. tortilla, other unleavened crisp breads
6.16 Grain products, savory Savory biscuits, pizza, meat pie ... D: meat, fish, cheese, vegetables ... Incl. 6.15
6.17 Grain products, sweet Cookies, sweet rolls, Danish pastry, fruit cake, cream cake ... D. sugar, fat, egg, fruit, cream ...  

Note: Flours and other dry grain products should be separated from bread because of weight differences and use. Should rice and pasta be coded as dry or cooked weight?

7. Pulses, Seeds, Nuts and Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
7.1 Pulses Peas, beans, lentils   Incl. 7.6 Dry or cooked weight?
7.2 Seeds, kernals Linseed, sunflower ...    
7.4 Nuts Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts ... D: salt, sugar Incl. marzipan, coconut milk, cocoa powder (?)

Note: Cocoa based milk drinks is included in 1.1

8. Vegetables and Vegetable Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
Tubers Potato, sweet potato ... C or D: Pommes frites, inst. mashed potatoes?  
8.2 Cabbage White, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, other C: pickled (sauerkraut)  
8.11 Roots Carrot, turnip ...    
8.1 Leaves Lettuce, chinese cabbage, spinach ...    
8.9 Stalks Celery, rhubarb ...    
8.3 Bulbs Onions, leek ...    
8.5 Fruit vegetables Tomato, cucumber, paprika, squash ... D: ketchup, chutney ...?  
  Vegetables, other Asparagus ...   Incl 8.10
8.8 Vegetable mixtures Type of product C: mixed salad, frozen, canned ...  
Juice, vegetable Tomato, carrot ...   Minor products
8.6 Fungi, edible Mushroom    

9. Fruit and Fruit Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
9.2 Apples, pears   C: fresh, canned ...
D. sugar ...
Incl. applesauce?
9.5 Citrus Orange, lemon ...    
9.3 Stone fruits Plum, cherry, apricot ... C: fresh, canned ...  
9.1 Fruits, other Banana, kiwi, melon ...    
9.4 Berries Grapes, currants, straw-rasp-, blueberries ... C: fresh, frozen, canned, dried (raisins ...)  
11.17 Juice, fruit Orange, other citrus, apple, mixtures ...    
9.7 Fruit mixtures Salad, jam, compote ... D: sugar Jam with < 50% sugar is a major Norwegian spread

10. Sugar, Chocolate and Related Products

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
10.1 Sugar White, brown ?    
10.2 Sugar substitutes Nutritive (sorbitol ...)
Non-nutr. (cyklamat ...)
  Honey, syrups Honey, molasses ...   10.3+10.4
10.6 Marmalade, jelly Type of product D: fruit, berries > 50% sugar, incl. all gelatine jellies
10.8 Chocolate products Spread, bar ... D: nuts, raisins  
Confectionary With or without chocolate, mix   Often eaten as mix Excl. choc covered ice cream
10.21 Sugar products, other Icing, other dessert toppings, candied fruits   Incl. 10.5+10.7

11. Beverages (Non-milk)

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
11.1 Beer % alcohol    
11.2 Wine, table Red, white   Flavonoid content
  Liqueurs, fortified wine Liqueurs, sherry, port, madeira ...   11.3-11.6+11.21 (incl sweet wine)
11.7 Spirits and brandy      
11.8 Still drinks Squash, lemonade ...
+ sugar or sweetener
  Diluted with water
11.9 Carbonated drinks Colas, Fanta...   Non- diluted
11.11 Water Tap, mineral water with or without CO2    
  Coffee Boiled, filter, instant
+ caffeine
  Tea Black, green, herbal ...    
  Drinks, misc. Cider, nectar ...   11.18+11.19

Note: As already mentioned, cocoa based drinks should be placed in the fluid milk group, and the pure juices should be moved to the vegetable and fruit groups respectively.

12. Miscellaneous Foods

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
  Mayonnaise salads Mayonnaise, -salads, salad dressings ... D: vegetables, meat ... 12.3+12.11+12.17
Soups, sauces Base constituent
(powder + liquid)
  Prepared weight
12.15 Snacks, savory Base constituent (potato chips, pop corn ...) D: fat  
  Other products Baking goods, condiments, spices ...   12.2+12.6+12.16

Note: The "other products" holds very small amounts and are usually recipe ingredients, i.e not visible in dietary surveys. Note that non-dairy coffee cream is grouped as a cream substitute. Even though redcurrant jelly may be used as a sauce in some countries, it should be placed in 10.6 due to its high content of sugar. In Norway redcurrant jelly is mainly used as a sandwich, waffle or muffin spread.

13. Products for Special Nutritional Use

Code Level 2 name Level 3 classified by Facet: description Comments
13.1 Enteral Powder base or ready to eat product ?    
13.2 Fat modified      
13.3 Protein enriched      
13.4 High carbohydrate      
13.5 High energy     Incl 13.7 ?
13.6 Low energy      
13.8 Vitamins/minerals Single/multiple suppl.
+ pills, tonic, oil
  Incl n-3 rich oils
13.9 Baby foods Milk substitute, cereal, dinner, fruit, juice ...    

Note: Common foods with less/more fat, sugar, energy than in comparable traditional foods, f.ex artificially sweetened drinks should be placed within the appropriate level 1 groups.