To study cross-cultural variations and changes in intake of food groups in elderly Europeans, longitudinal data on food-group intake from Danish (n = 55), Dutch (n = 65), Swiss (n = 79), and Spanish (n = 46) female participants in the Survey in Europe on Nutrition and the Elderly a Concerted Action (SENECA) were compared. Participants were born between 1913 and 1918. Information on food intake was obtained with use of the same diet-history method at all sites and in both 1988-1989 and 1993. Actual food intake was coded according to the Eurocode system, the applicability of which for European multicenter studies was evaluated in this study. All participants, regardless of site, reported consumption of milk, grain products, and vegetables, and almost all ate meat, fats, and fruit. Fewer women ate eggs, fish, and sugar. The variations between the sites were in the food groups consumed and the types of foods within the groups. Spanish women appeared to have the most healthy food-intake pattern. They also had more changes in their dietary pattern than did women in the other countries. The Eurocode was adequate for describing the actual food intake of elderly women in four European towns. The coding for meat, however, was ambiguous and should be revised.