Mapping EFSA’s food consumption data with tmap

October 27, 2016

(This article was first published on Carsten's blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)


The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author(s) only,
and may not necessarily represent the views of EFSA or of any other EU
Institution or body.

EFSA’s food consumption data

The European Food Safety Authority collects food consumption data from all EU countries and and integrates them in their database. The data is based on country specific surveys, in which individuals get interviewed about their food consumption habits. This data is used for EFSA’s risk assessments as part of the exposure assessment.

Accessing the data

The data is available from EFSA’s website in form of Excel files.

I selected for this tutorial the file of the “Chronic food consumption statistics” – “grams per day” – “all subjects”.

The following code reads the data from the EFSA website and writes it to a local file.
The file contains 4 sheets and we select the last one, which contains data on the lowest foodex level 4.

First download and cache it,

if (!file.exists("chronicgdaytotpop.xlsx"))

and the read it into R. The I fix a different spelling in the data versus the shape files to be
used later for the map.

data <- read_excel("./chronicgdaytotpop.xlsx","L4_All_subjects_g_day",skip=2) 
names(data) <- gsub(x = names(data),
                        pattern = "[[:space:]]|[[:punct:]]",
                        replacement = "_",
                    perl = F)
data <- data %>%

Description of data

The data is organised ‘per country’, ‘per survey’,’per population class’ and ‘per food group’.
The food classification follows the Foodex1 standard developed by EFSA, which is a hierarchical system for classifying food.
The current data set contains the most detailed foodex levels (3 and 4)

The ‘Mean’ column contains then the mean consumption in grams per day of this food among the participants of the survey. Additionally to the mean other statistics about the distribution of the food intake are given (standard deviation, percentiles)

We can interpret a single row, such as:

data %>% filter(Foodex_L4 == 'Couscous') %>% 
  filter(row_number()==1) %>% 
## Observations: 1
## Variables: 17
## $ Country       "Austria"
## $ Survey        "Austrian Study on Nutritional Status 2010-1...
## $ Pop_Class     "Adults"
## $ Foodex_L3     "Wheat milling products"
## $ Foodex_L4     "Couscous"
## $ Metrics       "A.01.000051"
## $ Nr_Subjects   308
## $ Nr_Consumers  7
## $ Mean          1.280844
## $ STD           9.331736
## $ P5            0
## $ P10           0
## $ Median        0
## $ P95           0
## $ P97_5         0
## $ P99           56
## $ Comment       NA

in the following way:

There was a food consumption survey with name ‘Austrian Study on Nutritional Status 2010-12 – Adults’ run in ‘Austria’.
One group of ‘308’ ‘Adults’ was surveyed and the ‘Mean’ food consumption of food ‘Couscous’ in that group was ‘1.28’ g intake per day. There are some more variables for the distribution of the daily intake. Note the large standard deviation, which means that the eating habits of ‘Couscous’ various a lot.

Analysis of standart deviation

One interesting question on this data is, which food are distributed evenly, so most individuals eat them in similar proportions.
One potential interpretation of those, is to say that these are the food which are ‘eaten in all of Europe, in all ages’ in the same quantities.

Lets find those with dplyr, like this:

stds <- data %>% group_by(Foodex_L4) %>% 
  filter(Mean > 5) %>% 
  summarise(STD=mean(STD),mean=mean(Mean)) %>% 
  arrange(STD) %>% 
Foodex_L4 STD mean
Salt, iodised 3.092542 6.313222
Salt 4.000443 8.159481
Rice starch 5.130434 6.681824
Fructose 5.279714 6.063511
Oil, frying, blend 6.041108 6.292762
Cocoa powder 6.304501 6.495044
Jelly candies 6.926092 5.243410
Margarine and similar products 7.385982 7.290324
Cream 40 % fat 7.488790 6.402034
Parsley root (Petroselinum crispum) 7.644194 11.049928
Duck meat (Anas spp.) 7.887929 5.294000
Tomato ketchup 7.911607 5.703227
Coffee beans, roasted and ground 8.036786 7.561675
Cooked sausage 8.102821 5.397307
Cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano 8.367041 7.220518
Salad dressing, 25 – 50% oil 8.407296 5.696910
Breadcrumbs 8.685303 6.797546
Spring onions, bulb (Allium cepa) 8.739136 5.635335
Plaice (Pleuronectes) 8.758317 5.157403
Jam, Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) 8.949646 8.119948

So it seems that all Europeans agree on eating similar portions of :

  • salt
  • rice starch
  • fructose
  • Oil
  • Cream
  • tomato ketchup
  • coffee
  • cooked sausage

and others.

Prepare data for mapping

For mapping purposes we can now decide which food group we want to use, ‘Jam’ in this case, and need to decide, how to aggregate the data of the different surveys and population groups. In this case I take the most simple approach, which is to average over all surveys and population groups.

This is good enough for illustrative purposes, but a exposure assessment based on this data needed to find a more sophisticated strategy in order to consider methodological differences between the studies.

A more detailed explained on how to use this data, see EFSA’s website.2

jam <- data %>% filter(Foodex_L4=='Jam') %>% 
  group_by(Country) %>% 
  summarise(food_mean=mean(Mean,na.rm = T))

The data is now in a format, ready to be presented in a pan European map, having a single value per country.

Country food_mean
Austria 5.2262848
Belgium 7.3638807
Bulgaria 0.0318451
Cyprus 0.9350935
Czech Rep. 3.6384642
Denmark 0.0000000
Finland 1.3505814
France 6.2648030
Germany 5.7111286
Greece 0.6074363
Hungary 0.0000000
Ireland 0.1185676
Italy 1.7422288
Latvia 1.7141950
Netherlands 4.5594901
Romania 3.9689273
Spain 0.4005222
Sweden 3.0928232
United Kingdom 1.1951599

For this tutorial we will use the tmap package.
It comes already with a shape file of Europe.
First we will restrict it to EU countries: <- Europe[Europe$EU_Schengen %in% c("EU Schengen","EU Schengen cand.",
                                              "EU Non-Schengen"),]

The tmap library allows to append this data easily to an existing European shape file, by using the ‘append_data’ function.

As the spelling of ‘Czech Republic’ in the data does not match the shape file, we rename it here.

jam <- jam %>% 
  ungroup() %>%
  mutate(Country=ifelse(Country=='Czech Republic','Czech Rep.',Country))
Europe.jam <- append_data(,,key.shp = 'name', = "Country")
Europe.jam$income_grp <- as.character(Europe.jam$income_grp)

The ‘key.shp’ and ‘’ parameter specify, on which columns the data and the shape file should be joined.

Showing a pan european map of food consumption data

A simple map of one food item

The data can now be shown on the screen as a simple map, containing one layer which represents the mean food consumption of ‘jam’, where the quantity is represented as color of the country polygon, increasing the level of darkness of the color by increased consumption.

tm_shape(Europe.jam) +
  tm_polygons(col='food_mean',title = "Jam consumption (mg/day)") +

plot of chunk unnamed-chunk-9

This map show, that France and Germany seems to be the top Jam consumers.

A more advanced map

We can easily add extra information to the map, like the ISO code of the countries, which are in column ‘iso_a3’ of the shape file. We do this by adding a text layer with ‘tm_text’, specifying which column of the shape file contains the textual information to show.

tm_shape(Europe.jam) +
  tm_polygons(col='food_mean',title = "Jam consumption (mg/day)") +
  tm_text('iso_a3',size = .5,
          col = "black",
         bg.color = "white") +

plot of chunk unnamed-chunk-10

Showing multiple maps

The following code shows one of the strength of using tmap, which is the very easy creation of multiple maps.
Let’s see how to show 4 maps, each with a different food.

First we filter the data by the 4 foods, and then we transform it from ‘long’ to ‘wide’ format with the ‘tidyr’ packages.

food_data <- data %>% 
  collect %>%
  filter(Foodex_L4 %in% c('Wheat grain','Jam','Couscous','Dried fruits')) %>% 
  group_by(Country,Foodex_L4) %>% 
  summarise(food_mean=mean(Mean,na.rm = T))
food_data <- food_data %>% 
  spread("Foodex_L4",'food_mean') %>%
  ungroup() %>%
  mutate(Country=ifelse(Country=='Czech Republic','Czech Rep.',Country))

This results in a table, which has one column per food:

Country Couscous Dried fruits Jam Wheat grain
Austria 0.2876738 0.1139407 5.2262848 0.0000000
Belgium 0.5355902 0.0032250 7.3638807 0.0000000
Bulgaria 0.0000000 0.0000000 0.0318451 0.0826588
Cyprus 0.0000000 0.0000000 0.9350935 0.0000000
Czech Rep. 0.0000000 0.2356088 3.6384642 0.0000000
Denmark 0.0000000 0.0000000 0.0000000 0.0001695
Finland 0.0303171 0.0333622 1.3505814 0.0000000
France 4.6042196 0.0000000 6.2648030 1.2603470
Germany 0.0124737 0.1177921 5.7111286 0.0356976
Greece 0.0000000 0.0000000 0.6074363 0.0000000
Hungary 0.0000000 0.0000000 0.0000000 0.0000000
Ireland 0.1457767 0.2361331 0.1185676 0.0000000
Italy 0.0589026 0.0006176 1.7422288 0.0000000
Latvia 0.0000000 0.5121008 1.7141950 0.0000000
Netherlands 0.0629168 0.0725512 4.5594901 0.0069556
Romania 0.0355434 0.0000000 3.9689273 0.0018987
Spain 0.0000000 0.0129597 0.4005222 0.0000000
Sweden 0.2039704 0.2110512 3.0928232 0.0230651
United Kingdom 0.5319579 0.1647893 1.1951599 0.0044839

This new data frame will be merged with the shape file

Europe.4foods <- append_data(,,key.shp = 'name', = "Country")

and then be plotted as 4 maps, by just using a vector with the column names in the ‘col’ argument of tm_polygons.
This will plot one map for each column name in the vector.

tm_shape(Europe.4foods) + 
  tm_polygons(col=c('Jam','Wheat grain','Couscous','Dried fruits'),n=3) +
  tm_format_Europe(legend.position = c("left","top"))

plot of chunk unnamed-chunk-14

Map of people surveyed

An other type of information which can be extracted from the data set, is information about the food consumption surveys.
The following code counts the number of individuals, which were surveyed per country.
In case of various surveys, I just sum it up.

peopleSurveyed <- data %>% 
  group_by(Survey,Pop_Class) %>% 
  filter(row_number()==1) %>% 
  select(Country,Survey,Nr_Subjects,Pop_Class) %>% 
  group_by(Country) %>% 

Country numSubjects
Austria 765
Belgium 3744
Bulgaria 1720
Cyprus 303
Czech Rep. 2353
Denmark 8563
Finland 7482
France 4079
Germany 16875
Greece 903
Hungary 1360
Ireland 2458
Italy 3323
Latvia 2913
Netherlands 6587
Romania 1382
Spain 2909
Sweden 5498
United Kingdom 7480

This can be plotted as a bar chart, to compare easily the number of individuals surveyed.
As we can see, there are large differences between them. Some Nordic countries have each surveyed more then 5000 individuals, while others have below 1000.

ggplot(peopleSurveyed) +
  geom_bar(aes(x = reorder(Country,numSubjects),
               y = numSubjects), 
           stat = 'identity'
          ) + 

plot of chunk unnamed-chunk-16

The same data shown as map shows a rather clear difference between north and southern Europe.
Does this mean that the (richer) Nordic countries invest more money in food consumption surveys ?
Or is it related to population (only) ?

A first hint to this question is to look at number of individuals together with GDP and population of a country.

Europe.surveyed <- append_data(,peopleSurveyed,key.shp = 'name', = "Country")
tm_shape(Europe.surveyed) +
  tm_polygons("numSubjects",n = 10,title = "# individuals") +
tm_shape(Europe.surveyed) +
  tm_bubbles(col = 'pop_est',
             size = "gdp_cap_est",
             title.col = 'Population estimated',
             title.size = "GDP estimated",
             palette = "Blues",
             contrast = c(0.5,1),
             n = 5) +

plot of chunk unnamed-chunk-17

Who eats most vegetables ?

By filtering data dependent on the highes L1 foodex level, we can get an glimpse on meat vs. non meat consumption in Europe.


data.l1 <- read_excel("./chronicgdaytotpop.xlsx","L1_All_subjects_g_day",skip=2) %>%
  tbl_df() %>%

data.veg <- data.l1 %>% filter(!`Foodex L1` %in% 
                                 c("Meat and meat products (including edible offal)",
                                   "Fish and other seafood (including amphibians, rept",
                                   "Milk and dairy products","Eggs and egg products",
                                   "Animal and vegetable fats and oils")) <- data.veg %>% group_by(Country) %>% summarize(mean=mean(Mean)) %>% arrange(mean) <- append_data(,,key.shp = "name", = "Country")

tm_shape( + 
  tm_polygons(col='mean',palette='Greens',n = 10)

plot of chunk unnamed-chunk-19

Interactive map

Tmap has as well an interactive mode. To demonstrate it, we will now add two layers we have used before,’Jam consumption’ and ‘# individuals surveyed’ to the same interactive map.

In such a map the user can:

  • change background (online) map
  • zoom and drag the mp
  • select layers to see (Jam consumption,#individuals)
  • click on countries to see all information for this country in the shape file
tm_shape(Europe.jam) +
  tm_polygons(col = 'food_mean',title = "Jam consumption (mg/day)") +
tm_shape(Europe.surveyed) +
  tm_polygons("numSubjects",n = 10,title = "# individuals",palette="Blues") +

As this blog is done with knitr, the interactive map is not shown.

Session info

The following R library versions were used for this tutorial.

## R version 3.2.2 (2015-08-14)
## Platform: x86_64-pc-linux-gnu (64-bit)
## Running under: Ubuntu 15.10
## locale:
##  [1] LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8       LC_NUMERIC=C              
##  [3] LC_TIME=en_US.UTF-8        LC_COLLATE=en_US.UTF-8    
##  [5] LC_MONETARY=en_US.UTF-8    LC_MESSAGES=en_US.UTF-8   
##  [7] LC_PAPER=en_US.UTF-8       LC_NAME=C                 
##  [9] LC_ADDRESS=C               LC_TELEPHONE=C            
## attached base packages:
## [1] methods   stats     graphics  grDevices utils     datasets 
## [7] base     
## other attached packages:
##  [1] pander_0.6.0    readxl_0.1.1    knitr_1.14      dplyr_0.5.0    
##  [5] purrr_0.2.2     readr_1.0.0     tidyr_0.6.0     tibble_1.2     
##  [9] ggplot2_2.1.0   tidyverse_1.0.0 tmap_1.6       
## loaded via a namespace (and not attached):
##  [1] gtools_3.5.0       splines_3.2.2      lattice_0.20-33   
##  [4] colorspace_1.2-7   htmltools_0.3.5    XML_3.98-1.4      
##  [7] e1071_1.6-7        DBI_0.5-1          sp_1.2-3          
## [10] RColorBrewer_1.1-2 plyr_1.8.4         stringr_1.1.0     
## [13] rgeos_0.3-21       munsell_0.4.3      gtable_0.2.0      
## [16] raster_2.5-8       osmar_1.1-7        htmlwidgets_0.7   
## [19] coda_0.18-1        evaluate_0.10      labeling_0.3      
## [22] httpuv_1.3.3       cartogram_0.0.2    class_7.3-14      
## [25] spdep_0.6-8        highr_0.6          Rcpp_0.12.7       
## [28] KernSmooth_2.23-15 geosphere_1.5-5    scales_0.4.0      
## [31] classInt_0.1-23    formatR_1.4        gdata_2.17.0      
## [34] leaflet_1.0.1      deldir_0.1-12      servr_0.4         
## [37] digest_0.6.10      stringi_1.1.2      gmodels_2.16.2    
## [40] grid_3.2.2         rgdal_1.1-10       tools_3.2.2       
## [43] bitops_1.0-6       LearnBayes_2.15    magrittr_1.5      
## [46] lazyeval_0.2.0     RCurl_1.95-4.8     MASS_7.3-45       
## [49] Matrix_1.2-7.1     assertthat_0.1     R6_2.2.0          
## [52] boot_1.3-18        nlme_3.1-128


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