App Allows Consumers to Personalize Nutri-Score for Individual Lifestyles

The release of the app coincides with a survey that showed strong consumer preference for tradition nutrition labels.
Feb. 10, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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A new sys­tem aims to reform the Nutri-Score front-of-pack label­ing sys­tem (FOPL)and add cus­tomized options to food clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

Available as an app for Android devices, myLabel’s Nutri-Perso allows con­sumers to add to the Nutri-Score rat­ings their pro­file, goals in terms of health and food sus­tain­abil­ity, age, gen­der, and health sta­tus.

The col­ored labels do not help because it is obvi­ous that when you see red, you will hit the brakes.- Andrea Segrè, direc­tor, Waist Watcher International

Accordingly, Nutri-Perso will then gen­er­ate new scores for the Nutri-Score-rated food pack­ages.

Developed in France by the Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions and the National Consumer Institute, Nutri-Perso allows its users to add pref­er­ences to food when buy­ing gro­ceries to avoid spe­cific types of food.

See Also:Nutri-Score Coverage

These include fil­ters against food with too many addi­tives, pes­ti­cides or antibi­otics, and food that harms bio­di­ver­sity or fuels defor­esta­tion. It also pro­motes food that ensures ani­mal well­be­ing, good work­ing con­di­tions or fair pay for farm­ers.

In a press con­fer­ence, Christophe Hurbin, founder of the myLabel appli­ca­tion, praised Nutri-Score as use­ful” but said that it could make the con­sumer feel guilty” when buy­ing poorly rated prod­ucts to the point that they might stop buy­ing those prod­ucts.

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We want to bring nuance, because yes, a prod­uct might be very sweet, there is no doubt, but we still can con­sume it [in a rea­son­able way],” he said.

Nutri-Score rated pack­aged food items based on salt, sugar, fat and caloric con­tent per 100 grams or mil­li­liters of the food.

On that basis, the Nutri-Score algo­rithm assigns a color/letter code to the pack­age, from the healthy Green A” down to the Red E.”

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According to Nutri-Score cre­ators, com­par­ing foods by a sin­gle quan­tity allows con­sumers to choose the best prod­ucts within a given cat­e­gory.

However, instead of focus­ing on the 100-gram quan­tity, Nutri-Perso mod­i­fies that notion adding the con­cept of por­tion” tai­lored to the needs, pro­file and pref­er­ences of the app user.

According to its cre­ators, Nutri-Perso will take away the sense of guilt” in buy­ing foods with a low Nutri-Score rat­ing, such as choco­late or cheeses, by sug­gest­ing to its users the quan­tity they should con­sume.

During the press con­fer­ence, Hurbin stressed how Nutri-Perso would not replace Nutri-Score.

However, the stan­dard quan­tity in Nutri-Score is one of the rea­sons the label­ing sys­tem is crit­i­cized by many food com­pa­nies, such as cheese pro­duc­ers in France and olive oil pro­duc­ers in Italy and Spain.

Since its scores refer to 100 grams, pro­duc­ers such as the General Confederation of Roquefort have repeat­edly said, Nutri-Score does not allow con­sumers to esti­mate the true impact of food intake in por­tions that might be way smaller.

That also appears to be one of the rea­sons Nutri-Score did not come out as con­sumers’ pre­ferred label­ing sys­tem in a recent multi-coun­try sur­vey con­ducted by the Italy-based Waste Watcher International obser­va­tory on food and sus­tain­abil­ity.

The sur­vey has traced a basic pro­file of con­sumers in seven coun­tries: Spain, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Russia.

In each coun­try, 1,000 con­sumers were sur­veyed, their food choices and food label­ing pref­er­ences were then ana­lyzed. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive pop­u­la­tion sam­ple was selected by the mar­ket research firm Ipsos.

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One of the most inter­est­ing find­ings of our study is a strong pref­er­ence given to the tra­di­tional nutri­tional labels which are mostly found on the back of the pack­ages,” Andrea Segrè, an agri­cul­tural pol­icy pro­fes­sor at the University of Bologna and sci­en­tific direc­tor of Waste Watcher International, told Olive Oil Times.

When con­fronted with the French Nutri-Score or the Italian Nutrinform Battery label­ing sys­tem, con­sumers showed that the third option, the tra­di­tional label, comes out as com­pet­i­tive,” he added.

More specif­i­cally, Nutri-Score as a whole has been intensely dis­liked in coun­tries well known for their oppo­si­tion to its adop­tion, such as Italy. However, con­sumers did not fully appre­ci­ate it in other coun­tries such as the U.K., the U.S., Canada and Russia.

Consumers from Germany, the U.K., Russia, and Canada pre­ferred Nutrinform Battery over Nutri-Score. Still, in sev­eral coun­tries, the stan­dard nutri­tion label fared even bet­ter.

The sur­vey ana­lyzed why each label was appre­ci­ated or dis­liked in every coun­try in depth. Interestingly, Nutri-Score failed to attract con­sumers in Italy but still out­paced the Italian Nutrinform Battery regard­ing use­ful­ness, infor­ma­tive poten­tial or aware­ness.

Among the find­ings, Segrè high­lighted the mod­est results of the so-called traf­fic-light food label­ing sys­tems adopted in sev­eral coun­tries.

It is widely adopted in the Anglo-Saxon coun­tries. Still, in those coun­tries, it does not seem to be really appre­ci­ated by con­sumers,” he said.

According to the study, most con­sumers want to know more about the prod­ucts they are buy­ing, includ­ing infor­ma­tion that might not always be included in a rat­ing score placed on a food pack­age.

On a global scale, what we are see­ing is poor nutri­tional edu­ca­tion,” Segrè said. The col­ored labels do not help because it is obvi­ous that when you see red, you will hit the brakes. Instead, you will go for­ward when you see green.”

It is sim­ple, but that is why it is wrong because you don’t need nutri­tional edu­ca­tion any­more. You just have to trust what­ever it is rep­re­sented by the labels,” he added.

Some of the most sig­nif­i­cant crit­i­cisms of Nutri-Score come from olive oil pro­duc­ers. Extra vir­gin olive oil and olive oil are rated with a Yellow C” by Nutri-Score, a medium clas­si­fi­ca­tion due to their high-fat con­tent.

According to some, includ­ing Unaprol, the Italian olive oil pro­ducer con­sor­tium, Nutri-Score does not con­sider the micronu­tri­ents that endow extra vir­gin olive oil with its unique health ben­e­fits. As a result, many pro­fes­sion­als in the olive oil sec­tor con­sider Nutri-Score to be puni­tive.

However, the system’s archi­tects dis­agree with these asser­tions and insist crit­i­cism of Nutri-Score is fre­quently made with­out con­text.

Olive oil is in no way penal­ized by Nutri-Score, Pilar Galan, a nutri­tional epi­demi­ol­ogy researcher at the Sorbonne Paris Nord University, told Olive Oil Times in a 2021 inter­view. Olive oil is rated C, which is the best score for added fats. This rank­ing is fully con­sis­tent with pub­lic health rec­om­men­da­tions.”

In Italy, Spain, Canada and Russia, the Waste Watcher International sur­vey found that almost half of the sur­veyed con­sumers would assign a Green A” to extra vir­gin olive oil. Only a minor­ity in all sur­veyed coun­tries would clas­sify extra vir­gin olive oil as cur­rently rated by Nutri-Score.

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The real­ity is that if there is a pos­si­ble penalty for olive oils in Nutri-Score since quan­ti­ties are not con­sid­ered,” Segrè said. It does not make sense to com­pare extra vir­gin olive oil with sweet­ened soda drinks. You would not dress a salad with those.”

And you would not drink olive oil as you do with a pop,” he added. Based on our sur­vey, it is pos­si­ble that a num­ber of con­sumers exposed to Nutri-Score will look at that extra vir­gin olive oil’s aver­age clas­si­fi­ca­tion and buy it less than before. Even more in coun­tries where olive oil cul­ture is not affirmed.”



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