Nutri-Score nutritional labelling system
Nutri-Score is a system for calculating the nutritional quality of food products with A to E grades, and showing them with a sliding scale, with the healthiest products marked with a green A and the unhealthiest with a red E.
The assessment is based on an algorithm which ranks foods from -15 for the healthiest products to +50 for the most unhealthy, allocates negative points to nutrients like saturated fats, calories, sugar and sodium and positive ones for the proportion of fruits, vegetables, proteins and fibres in the product.
Since its release in France in 2017, Nutri-Score has been adopted by a number of EU countries, including Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Approximately a quarter of food sold in France is said to use the voluntary labelling system.
Food type discrimination
Nutri-Score has proved controversial as it is seen to over-simplify nutritional assessments, discriminate against foods with a high fat content such as olive oil, cured meats, cheese, fish, and fruit, and mislead consumers.
For example, Spanish and Italian food producers have been anxious to ensure their olive oil and cured meats are exempted from the system as they believe it fails to take into account their health benefits.
Italy has proposed another nutrition labelling system.
Single EU standard?
The European Commission has been working towards the introduction of a single, compulsory front-of-pack nutrition labelling system for years. It has postponed what it has called a 'complex' decision until 2023.
Operator: Government of France; Government of Germany; Government of Belgium; Nestle; Auchan; Danone
Developer: Santé Publique France
Country: Spain; Italy
Sector: Agriculture; Health
Purpose: Determine nutritional score
Technology: Nutri-Score algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Fairness; Bias/discrimination - food type
European Commission (2020). Report to the European Parliament and the Council regarding the use of additional forms of expression and presentation of the nutrition declaration (pdf)
Hercberg S., Touvier M., Salas-Salvado J. (2022). The Nutri-Score nutrition label
Deschasaux M. et al (2020). Association between nutritional profiles of foods underlying Nutri-Score front-of-pack labels and mortality: EPIC cohort study in 10 European countries
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Published: March 2023