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September 2023

Statens Serum Institut (SSI) is one of Denmark’s largest research institutes and is attached to the Danish Ministry of Health. Its role is to ensure preparedness against infectious diseases and biological threats, as well as monitoring congenital disorders.

Statens Serum Institut is the lead institution for HEAP’s Consumer Exposure Monitoring System Work Package.

Consumer Purchase Data (CPD) from Loyalty programs and digital receipts are emerging as a promising route to assessing the effect of consumer products on our health.

The “First International Consumer Data Symposium” explored the vast array of ways CPD can be used to improve public health and ensure the safety of consumers.  

Topics included how Consumer Purchase Data is being used to support outbreak investigations, and how it can provide insights into the health impacts of our diets and exposures to chemicals in everyday products.

Panel discussions addressed research challenges around working with consumer purchase data, inconsistencies in naming conventions and the future use of CPD in public health and research.

View the presentations

Frederik Trier Møller, MD, PhD. Senior Registrar, is a project manager and innovator at Statens Serum Institute.

He has established research and digital knowledge infrastructures and conducted epidemiologic studies using Danish registers, and is leading the Consumer Cohort Work Package of HEAP.  

"Consumer data epidemiology and precision prevention"

Could the “consumer purchase data exposome” lead to novel insights into our lifestyle’s impact on health and disease, and provide a basis for future prevention? What are the main challenges and opportunities associated with this fast-evolving area of research?

As well as the “bigger picture”, Frederik presents a GDPR-compliant, secure, encrypted web application developed as part of a HEAP pilot project, to enable consumers to consent to share their consumer data with researchers. 

Mikael Fogelholm has been the professor in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Helsinki, Department of Food and Nutrition, since 2011.

His research focuses on diet, physical activity, and obesity, and in particular, in the use of loyalty-card consumer purchase data to study the relationships between food and sustainable development. 

"Consumer Purchase Data.  Experiences from the LoCard Study"

The LoCard study brings together specialists in human nutrition, social psychology, biostatistics, and marketing from the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere, Finland.

The study involves loyalty card holders from the largest grocery chain in Finland, who granted consent to use data from food purchases over a three-year period. The volunteers also answered an online questionnaire covering their diets, shopping habits, and demographic data.

The purchase data included information on product weight, price, time of purchase, and shop location. The study also linked food groups to the national food composition database Fineli®, and to data on environmental impacts.

The study has looked at how well food purchases reflected card holders’ diets, the effects of a change in alcohol legislation on purchases, sources of protein in the population, and relationships between price, carbon footprint and dietary patterns. 

Michelle Morris is Professor of Data Science for Food in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds and a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

She leads the interdisciplinary Nutrition and Lifestyle Analytics team which uses novel forms of data, including supermarket transaction records from a number of UK supermarkets, for research into lifestyle behaviours and health. 

"Dietary patterns in UK Consumer Purchase Data"

Poor diet is a leading cause of death in the United Kingdom and around the world. Methods to collect quality dietary information at scale for population research are time consuming, expensive and biased. 

Novel data sources such as supermarket sales transactions and loyalty card data offer the potential to overcome these challenges and better understand population dietary patterns. 

How well do supermarket loyalty card transaction data compare to traditional dietary assessment methods? How can these data can be used to better understand population level dietary patterns? How do these compare with national recommendations, and vary by sociodemographic characteristics? 

With these questions in mind, Professor Morris will present results from the STRIDE (Supermarket Transaction Records In Dietary Evaluation) Study.  

Dr. Kristin Isaacs is a Research Physical Scientist in the Center for Computational Toxicology and Exposure of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development (ORD).

Her research focuses on characterizing chemical exposure pathways for human and ecological receptors and developing high-throughput approaches for quantifying exposures for use in chemical safety decision-making.

"Identification and prioritization of chemical co-exposures using Consumer Purchase Data"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a need to identify potential real-world chemical co-exposures in order to prioritize in vitro toxicity screening. However, due to the vast number of potential chemical combinations, this has been a major challenge.

Dr Isaac’s presentation describes an effort to mine an integrated dataset linking consumer product chemical ingredient data with product purchasing data from sixty thousand households to identify priority chemical co-exposures resulting from co-use of products.

The result of this analysis may inform candidate mixtures for testing in high-throughput screening programs.

Thor Juncker is a statistician at Statens Serum Institut (SSI) in the Department of Epidemiological Research. 

He has a master’s degree in mathematical modelling from The Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

"Consumer chemistry data pipeline"

Thor presents preliminary results from a sub-project of the MyConsumerPurchase cohort (CPD) that focuses on individual chemical exposures.

The project aims to categorize exposure profiles by combining longitudinal purchase information with product information such as chemical compounds and usage types (oral, dermal etc.)

Luise Müller is an epidemiologist with expertise in infectious disease field epidemiology. 

As head of the disease outbreak unit at Statens Serum Institut, Luise is engaged and has a coordinating role in health preparedness and response activities.

Luise is a member of the Central Outbreak Management group of Denmark – which together with colleagues from the Danish Food Institute, and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration coordinate national foodborne outbreaks.

"Consumer Purchase Data to Aid Outbreak Investigations"

An overview of how  consumer purchase data is used at different levels of foodborne outbreak investigations.

What are the main successes and barriers in using the method? And how can this method be improved in the future? 

Kathrine Kold Sørensen is a PhD student at the Department of Cardiology, Hillerød Hospital. Her research centres around epidemiological research using the Danish Nationwide registers.

"SMIL Cohort: Consumer Purchase Data and Register Outcomes"

Kathrine introduces the SMIL cohort, which is an open cohort comprising more than 10,000 individuals who have donated consumer purchase data for up to five years.

Following that, she presents the research results, highlighting how consumer purchase data from this cohort has been combined with information from the Danish registers.

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