|The National Food Survey (NFS), which closed in 2000, was the longest-running continuous survey of household food consumption and expenditure in the world. It was originally set up in 1940 by the then Ministry of Food to monitor the adequacy of the diet of urban 'working class' households in wartime, but it was extended in 1950 to become representative of households throughout Great Britain (the UKDA holds NFS data from 1974-2000 only). In 1996 the survey was extended to cover Northern Ireland, thus allowing results for the United Kingdom to be presented for the first time.
The NFS provided a wealth of information which made a major contribution to the study of the changing patterns of household food consumption. About 8,000 households took part in the NFS each year. The household member who did most of the food shopping was asked some questions about the household and its food purchasing. They were then asked to keep a diary for seven days, recording food coming into the household, including quantities and expenditure, and some detail of the household meals (including snacks and picnics prepared from household supplies).
The last wave of the NFS was conducted in 2000. From 2001, the NFS was completely replaced by the Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS), which combined and superseded both the previous Family Expenditure Survey (FES) and the NFS. From 2008, the EFS became the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) (see under GN 33334).
Each household which participated in the NFS did so voluntarily, and without payment, for one week only. By regularly changing the households surveyed, information was obtained continuously throughout the year except for a short break at Christmas. Each household was provided with a specially designed log-book in which the person principally responsible for domestic food arrangements provided information about each household. The main diary-keeper kept a record each day for seven days, with guidance from an interviewer, of all food entering the home intended for human consumption. Information about characteristics of the household and of its members was recorded on a separate questionnaire.
From 1994 an extension to the NFS covered food and drink consumed outside the home (i.e. not from household supplies), known as the 'Eating Out Extension'. The data are not available, as it was a limited experiment with mixed results, but it covered estimates of average consumption, expenditure and the nutritional value of food eaten out, classified by the same household characteristics as the main survey and also by personal characteristics such as age and gender. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.