Emphasis on public health and consumer protection, in combination with globalisation of the food market, has created a strong demand for exposure assessments of food chemicals. The food chemicals for which exposure assessments are required include food additives, pesticide residues, environmental contaminants, mycotoxins, novel food ingredients, packaging-material migrants, flavouring substances and nutrients. A wide range of methodologies exists for estimating exposure to food chemicals, and the method chosen for a particular exposure assessment is influenced by the nature of the chemical, the purpose of the assessment and the resources available. Sources of food consumption data currently used in exposure assessments range from food balance sheets to detailed food consumption surveys of individuals and duplicate-diet studies. The fitness-for-purpose of the data must be evaluated in the context of data quality and relevance to the assessment objective. Methods to combine the food consumption data with chemical concentration data may be deterministic or probabilistic. Deterministic methods estimate intakes of food chemicals that may occur in a population, but probabilistic methods provide the advantage of estimating the probability with which different levels of intake will occur. Probabilistic analysis permits the exposure assessor to model the variability (true heterogeneity) and uncertainty (lack of knowledge) that may exist in the exposure variables, including food consumption data, and thus to examine the full distribution of possible resulting exposures. Challenges for probabilistic modelling include the selection of appropriate modes of inputting food consumption data into the models.