`Critics of Nutri-Score Demand Reform to Ratings of PDO and PGI Foods - Olive Oil Times

Critics of Nutri-Score Demand Reform to Ratings of PDO and PGI Foods

Nov. 29, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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The Italian Antitrust Authority has announced an inves­ti­ga­tion into Nutri-Score regard­ing how some large retail­ers and food pro­duc­ers in Italy use it.

According to the pub­lic agency, the con­sumers could be induced to attribute healthy prop­er­ties to prod­ucts pos­i­tively clas­si­fied by Nutri-Score or Yuka [the asso­ci­ated mobile appli­ca­tion] and there­fore trust the front-of-pack label and app to make their food choices.”

(Nutri-Score) rejects 85 per­cent of the total value of Italian PDOs and PGIs… Those are prod­ucts, such as cheeses or cold cuts, which bear with them the work of gen­er­a­tions.- Coldiretti, National Farmers Confederation

The antitrust author­ity added that Nutri-Score labels might be per­ceived as defin­i­tive health eval­u­a­tions on a spe­cific prod­uct pro­file with no cor­re­la­tion to the over­all needs of an indi­vid­ual (diet and lifestyle), the quan­tity or fre­quency of con­sump­tion within a var­ied and bal­anced diet.”

See Also:Exporters’ Association of Crete Rejects Nutri-Score

The antitrust inves­ti­ga­tion comes on the heels of strong crit­i­cism by the Italian gov­ern­ment whose Minister of Agriculture Stefano Patuanelli has called Nutri-Score a sys­tem that aims to con­di­tion the con­sumer instead of inform­ing the pub­lic.”

The new inves­ti­ga­tion also was wel­comed by Italy’s lead­ing farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, Coldiretti.


The asso­ci­a­tion warned that the even­tual imple­men­ta­tion of Nutri-Score at the national and European lev­els would pro­foundly affect the sales of Italian food spe­cial­ties cur­rently pro­tected with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

Extra vir­gin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma and Gorgonzola are only a few of the high-qual­ity Made in Italy prod­ucts rejected by the col­ored label which is mak­ing inroad through­out Europe,” Coldiretti wrote.

Despite the recent bar­rage of crit­i­cism, the French-born label­ing sys­tem has been adopted by sev­eral European coun­tries, includ­ing Germany and France.

Nutri-Score is also widely con­sid­ered the front-run­ner among the label­ing sys­tems that the European Commission will choose to become the offi­cial European Union front-of-pack label (FOPL) by the end of 2022.

According to Coldiretti, Nutri-Score rejects 85 per­cent of the total value of Italian PDOs and PGIs, those that the European Union should instead pro­tect and value, espe­cially dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic.”

Those are prod­ucts, such as cheeses or cold cuts, which bear with them the work of gen­er­a­tions, prod­ucts whose receipt can not be altered,” Coldiretti added.

Nutri-Score rates food based on a 100-gram or 100-mil­li­liter sam­ple. It takes into con­sid­er­a­tion the caloric, fat, sugar and salt con­tent of the food item. Foods are labeled with a color and let­ter scale rang­ing from the health­i­est Green A” down to the Red E.”


As Nutri-Score cre­ator Serge Hercberg told Olive Oil Times in 2020, the FOPL is meant for con­sumers to com­pare prod­ucts belong­ing to the same food cat­e­gory.

For exam­ple, Nutri-Score labels extra vir­gin olive oil with a Yellow C,” the best score for edi­ble fat.

Referring to that Yellow C,” Stefano Caroli, the pres­i­dent of the Apulian Olive Oil Mill Operators Association (AFP), Stefano Caroli said to Olive Oil Times, in this del­i­cate moment, we don’t need Nutri-Score telling us that olive oil is not that good for health.”

One could even think that there are inter­ests at play here not to have some excel­lent Italian prod­ucts suc­ceed in the mar­ket,” he added. For the future of Italy and the future of the fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tions, one can only hope we will be able to give the right value to a food cul­ture and her­itage which rep­re­sents so much. We suc­ceeded in doing this for many prod­ucts, not yet for extra vir­gin olive oil.”

Coldiretti also said that prob­lems are occur­ring in coun­tries that have already adopted Nutri-Score.

The farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion cited the recent deci­sion of a Spanish Senate com­mit­tee to ask the gov­ern­ment to sus­pend Nutri-Score’s imple­men­ta­tion in the coun­try until the European Union names its offi­cial label­ing sys­tem.

The Senate Health and Consumption com­mit­tee said it approved the motion to avoid uncer­tain­ties for com­pa­nies in the food sec­tor and con­fu­sion for the con­sumers.”

In the motion, Spanish sen­a­tors asked the national gov­ern­ment to work at a European level to agree to one har­mo­nized stan­dard that pro­motes PDO and PGI prod­ucts.

According to the ABC news­pa­per, the sup­port­ers of the Senate committee’s motion said, thou­sands of medium and small pro­duc­ers… see their future in dan­ger.”

See Also:Study: Nutri-Score Label System Does Not Discourage Olive Oil Consumption

While sen­a­tors said they did not view a food label­ing sys­tem as bad for the indus­try, they added that it remains to be seen whether Nutri-Score is the most effec­tive solu­tion.

According to the sup­port­ers, sev­eral key ele­ments of the Mediterranean diet are penal­ized by Nutri-Score while other prod­ucts such as chips or ham­burg­ers from fast-food chains” often attain a bet­ter score.

Initially, the Spanish gov­ern­ment planned to intro­duce Nutri-Score at the begin­ning of 2021, but the plan was opposed by the olive oil sec­tor.

A few months ago, Minister of Consumption Alberto Garzón said, olive oil is good for your health and can­not have a label that says it is bad.” Furthermore, he reas­sured the sec­tor that Nutri-Score would not be applic­a­ble to olive oil prod­ucts.

The debate about the appli­ca­tion of Nutri-Score to PDOs and PGI-cer­ti­fied foods is also caus­ing con­tro­versy in France, the first coun­try to adopt the FOPL.

Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandie has recently asked for changes to how Nutri-Score rates food.

According to the min­is­ter, who has also empha­sized that get­ting rid of Nutri-Score is not the solu­tion, the label­ing sys­tem should not penal­ize PDO and PGI prod­ucts.

The minister’s state­ments come shortly after the General Confederation of Roquefort, one of France’s most famous PDO cheese pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tions, asked to be exempted from Nutri-Score and

In an inter­view with AgriCulture, Denormandie said that the Nutri-Score method­ol­ogy should be adapted so that it does not come out rat­ing our cheeses and our PDOs as bad.”


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