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FACTSON THE
NUTRI-SCORE
LABEL SYSTEM

Nutriscore Fakty Koszyk Jedzenie

The institutions of the European Union are working towards implementation of the joint nutritional value labeling system on the front of pack (FOPNL). One of the solutions discussed is implementation of the Nutri-Score systemwhich is currently used in several EU countries. We should pay attention to the fact that attempts to implement it officially are very often accompanied by objections from agricultural producers and processors, because its assumptions mostly depreciate natural, ecological, regional or traditional products, as well as the products which content must not be changed in view of valid regulations. We should pay attention to the fact that attempts to implement it officially are very often accompanied by objections from agricultural producers and processors, because its assumptions mostly depreciate natural, ecological, regional or traditional products, as well as the products which content must not be changed in view of valid regulations.

Such products are for example:. juices, oils and olives, honeys, ripening cheeses and fish productsthat are often popularized within EU programs regarding regional, local, ecological or geographical-origin-indicated agricultural products.

Nutri-Score is contradicted by multiple nutrition specialists and is against the current EU policy focused on drawing customers back to healthy diet based on traditional, basic products coming from local crops or farming. Also, traditional products entirely based on raw materials guarantee high quality and diversity of EU production, with purpose to maintain cultural and cuisine heritage in EU countries, as it could become inevitably lost, if Nutri-Score is implemented.

DISADVANTAGESOF THE NUTRI-SCORE SYSTEM

EATING HABITS

there is no such thing as good or bad food, this is why the holistic approach to food and nutrition is so important.

DIET

successful diet is not based on specific food or nutritional ingredient, but on learning correct eating habits.

CUSTOMIZED NUTRITION

diet should be customized considering age, physical activity and health of consumers.

DOES NOT MOTIVATE

to better understand the rules of correct nutrition and to assess food ingredients.

DEPRACIATES

traditional and local diets and products coming as a result of efforts of farmers and growers.

EXPERTOPINIONS

DATABASE OF EXPERTISE AND EXPERT OPINIONS

Various research and expert opinions show influence of the Nutri-Score system on perception of consumers, their shopping choices and how they see what is a healthy product than can be consumed without limitations. Visit our expert zone and find out about the latest results of research on influence of the Nutri-Score system on our diet and food production.

Nutriscore Dokumenty

Q&A

What is the Nutri-score system?

Nutri-Score (hereinafter referred to as “N-S” or ”System”) is the color-based graphic and letter labeling system (from A to E and from dark green to red), placed on front of food packaging and informing on general product nutritional value on the basis of four selected product parameters (energy value, saturated fatty acids, sugar and salt) and selected nine product ingredients (dietary fiber, protein, fruit, vegetable, legumes and rapeseed, walnut and olive oils).

The system highlights A- and dark-green-labeled products as the most desired in a diet, while E- and red-labeled as the less desired ones.

Is the Nutri-Score system the form of a nutritional claim?

The N-S statement, placed on labels of food offered to consumers, is voluntarily provided information on food that must meet the requirements of the art. 36 of the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council (EU) 1169/2011, in particular:

  • it must be understood for consumers
  • it must not disorientate them
  • it must be based on respective scientific data.

Besides, the N-S statement meets the definition of the ”claim”, as defined in the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council (EU) 1924/2006, while A and B on the green background are included in the definition of the ”nutritional claim”, meaning their use in commercial messages sent to final consumers must be compliant with the aforesaid regulation.

This means application of N-S requires compliance with the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council (EU) 1169/2011 and the regulation 1924/2006.

Will the Nutri-score system make it easier for consumers to make more aware choices?

The N-S label is the general nutritional value of a given product and considers selected ingredients which consumptions should be increased and limited. In turn, it does not consider other various aspects related to content, nature and characteristics of food, that may have significant impact on determination that a given food product is valuable from the nutritional point of view, such as:

  1. level of processing, thus less or more natural character,
  2. content of food additives,
  3. product ration usually consumed by consumers,
  4. content of vitamin, mineral ingredients, anti-oxidizers, etc.
Does Nutri-score raise awareness of consumers?

The general assessment in form of a logo does not inform consumers on ingredients that had decisive impact on assignment of a given grade. In other words, consumers can see a product is better, but they do not know the reason. Moreover, they may have doubts whether the advantage of a given product over other one results from its nutritional value or health-related value.

Does choosing green-labeled products within the Nutri-score system have positive impact on diet?

Choosing only products labeled with the ”positive grade” (A or B letters) and avoiding ”negatively” labeled products, or even avoiding non-assessed products, i.e. without any grade, for example non-processed products, may have potential adverse impact on diet diversification which correct nutrition methods are based on.

Does the Nutri-Score system promote highly processed products?

One of the N-S system assumptions is reformulation of food in order to increase its nutritional value. However, it should be noted it is possible for highly and medium-processed food which content can be modified, indeed. Undertaking such activities by producers, who will be trying to get the best possible grades for their products, that is valuable as such, may complicate their content or level processing even more. Moreover, it may lead to the situation, when highly processed food will have positive grades that will make customers consume it more often. As a result, such food will be promoted at the expense of low processed or non-processed products which content must not be modified and which can be labeled with unfavorable N-S statements because of their nature (e.g. products with naturally large amount of fat, such as cheeses, oil, butter or fish-based products) which does not need to mean their nutritional value is lower. As a result, highly-processed products could be perceived as better than non-processed ones (that would not have any N-S or their grade would be worse).

How does the Nutri-score system discriminate natural products?

The problem may arise in case of products which content is defined by the EU regulations on commercial quality (such as fruit juices and nectars, jams and preserves). A good example is fruit juice that must not contain sugar additives and must be produced in compliance with a national regulation implementing the respective EU directive (the requirements specify allowable production methods, raw material specifications, allowable additives and features of final products). Such a juice can be given worse N-S statement than a juice-based drink which content can be freely modified (e.g. by replacing some sugar with sweeteners). Also, a method of production of this drink is not limited with restrictive regulations and it can contain more food additives. As a result, better assessment of such a drink than of a juice may motivate consumers to buy and consume drinks more often at the expense of juices which are a natural source of vitamins and mineral and other nutritional ingredients (e.g. anti-oxidizers).

What is the negative impact of the Nutri-score system on products protected on the basis of EU regulations in terms of quality systems?

The Nutri-score statement may have negative impact in case of many products of specific, high quality, protected by EU regulations regarding quality systems of agricultural and food products. As it can be concluded from the preamble to the regulation 1151/2012, such products should be supported and protected, because they constitute the EU cultural heritage and are desired by consumers for quality and exceptional nature:

“(1) The quality and diversity of the Union’s agricultural, fisheries and aquaculture production is one of its important strengths, giving a competitive advantage to the Union’s producers and making a major contribution to its living cultural and gastronomic heritage. This is due to the skills and determination of Union farmers and producers who have kept traditions alive while taking into account the developments of new production methods and material.

(2) Citizens and consumers in the Union increasingly demand quality as well as traditional products. They are also concerned to maintain the diversity of the agricultural production in the Union. This generates a demand for agricultural products or foodstuffs with identifiable specific characteristics, in particular those linked to their geographical origin.

(…) in this way quality schemes are able to contribute to and complement rural development policy as well as market and income support policies of the common agricultural policy (CAP) (…)

Agricultural product quality policy should therefore provide producers with the right tools to better identify and promote those of their products that have specific characteristics while protecting those producers against unfair practices.”

According to the coalition of countries opposing N-S:

”All traditional food product based entirely on raw materials are given a huge blow, such as feta cheese (Greece), Camembert cheese (France), Kalamata olives (Greece), Parmigiano Reggiano (Italy), Jamón de Serrano (Spain), olive oil (Greece, Spain, Italy), honey, traditional cold cuts and meat products, products made of goose and duck liver, etc, as these types of products are assessed as “unhealthy”.”

How does the Nutri-score system limit diet diversification in certain EU countries?

Other important factor is diversification of diets usually present in certain EU countries. The recommendation to consume more A and B products may produce different consequences for consumers in different countries. Increased consumption of recommended food labeled with A and B (and dark and light green colors) is in contrary to the requirement specified in the article 3 of the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council (EU) 1924/2006, stating that health and nutritional claims (the Nutri-Score system is the form of a claim) must neither encourage nor allow excessive consumption of given food. Also, many products labeled with C, D and E (in appropriate amounts in proportions) are necessary to maintain correct, balanced diet, so they also should be included in a diet on the day-to-day basis.

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