In May 2020, as part of its Farm-to-Fork strategy (source 1), the European Commission has announced its intention to adopt mandatory nutrition labeling before the end of 2022. Objective: to help European consumers to make better food choices and prevent chronic diseases. In a press release published on March 16, 2021 (source 2), a group of European scientists supporting the implementation of Nutri-Score in Europe, launched an appeal to accelerate the implementation of this system.
269 scientists and 21 expert associations in the fields of nutrition, obesity, endocrinology, public health, preventive medicine, oncology, cardiology, pediatrics and social marketing ask the European Commission toadopt the Nutri-Score “as soon as possible” as a mandatory nutritional logo in Europe.
The Nutri-Score, the only reliable scientific indicator
The Nutri-Score logo, created in 2016 as part of the “Health Law”, allows” identify at a glance the nutritional quality of a food product. Affixed on the packaging, it associates five letters (A, B, C, D, E) with five colors (from dark green to red), the green A being the healthiest “score”. Established in 2017 in France, it has since been adopted by several European countries (Belgium, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands).
“The Nutri-Score, developed by university researchers without conflict of interest, is the only nutritional logo in Europe to have been the subject of many scientific studies (more than 40 published in international peer-reviewed scientific journals) demonstrating its effectiveness, relevance and utility for consumers and for public health, as well as its better performance compared to other logos existing or supported by pressure groups “, indicate the signatories of the appeal.
How is the Nutri-Score calculated?
The logo is awarded on the basis of a score taking into account for 100 g or 100 mL of product, the content:
- in nutrients and foods to promote (fibers, proteins, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, rapeseed, walnut and olive oil),
- and in nutrients to limit (energy, saturated fatty acids, sugars, salt).
The calculation of the overall score of a food is done by subtracting the sum of the favorable points from the sum of the unfavorable points. The score obtained then makes it possible to assign it a letter and a color, specifies Public Health France (source 4).
Countering disinformation from agribusiness lobbies
Experts welcome the initiative of the European Commission, supported by WHO Europe and many European consumer associations. However, they are worried about its implementation: “Since this announcement, powerful lobbies have been activated, supported by certain member states and disseminate false information to try to discredit the Nutri-Score and block the decision-making process the establishment of a harmonized European label “.
They argue that the current information provided by the nutrition facts table on the back of packages is sufficient, or they support a monochrome logo that is supposed to be ‘neutral’ (the Nutrinform battery system). ”
And to insist: “Nutrinformis not based on substantiated scientific basis and its concept and design are very close to the logo format GDA / RIs set up by food companies in the 2000s (and whose ineffectiveness in helping consumers judge the nutritional quality of foods has been shown by numerous studies). ”
(1): From farm to fork, our food, our health, our planet, our future – European Commission
(2): Press release from the “Group of European scientists supporting the implementation of Nutri-Score in Europe”, March 16, 2021
(3): The Front-of-Pack nutrition label Nutri-Score: a public health tool to improve the nutritional status of the population that is based on rigorous scientific background, Group of European scientists supporting the implementation of Nutri-Score in Europe, March 16, 2021
(4): Nutri-Score, Public health France, March 11, 2021