Health Professionals in France Endorse Widespread Adoption of Nutri-Score

Health providers in France have asked the federal government to lobby the European Commission in support of the widespread adoption of the controversial front-of-pack label system.
Jan. 18, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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In a new effort to pro­mote the wide­spread adop­tion of Nutri-Score, dozens of pub­lic and pri­vate health enti­ties have endorsed an open let­ter to the French gov­ern­ment sup­port­ing the front-of-pack label­ing sys­tem (FOPL).

The sig­na­to­ries, includ­ing the French Society of Hepatology (AFEF) and the French Society of Public Health (SFSP), argue that Nutri-Score is nec­es­sary to curb the coun­try’s con­sid­er­able health­care chal­lenges.

Nutri-Score has proven to be a very use­ful instru­ment for rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness of cor­rect con­sump­tion, thanks to its ease of inter­pre­ta­tion.- Authors, open let­ter

The anti-Nutri-Score mobi­liza­tion of large indus­trial groups has unfor­tu­nately found the sup­port of sev­eral polit­i­cal fig­ures, in defi­ance of the major pub­lic health chal­lenges with which France is increas­ingly con­fronted, such as obe­sity, can­cers, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, dia­betes,” the let­ter reads.

See Also:European Commission Announces Public Consultation on Food Labeling

The sig­na­to­ries believe that crit­i­cism of Nutri-Score could hin­der its chances of being selected by the European Commission as the pan-European FOPL, which Brussels will announce by the end of the year.

Nutri-Score was adopted in France in 2017. Since then, the five-col­or/let­ter FOPL has spread to sev­eral other European coun­tries, includ­ing Germany and Switzerland.

Nutri-Score rates food items using their main nutri­ent con­tents, such as sodium, sugar, calo­ries and fats, per 100 grams or 100 mil­li­liters. Each food item receives a score rang­ing from the health­i­est Green A” to the least healthy Red E.”

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Nutri-Score’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion algo­rithm has been met with skep­ti­cism in sev­eral European coun­tries, most notably Italy. Producers of local spe­cialty prod­ucts have also voiced their con­cerns about the Nutri-Score.

The pro­duc­ers asso­ci­a­tion behind Roquefort cheese in France called the logo sim­plis­tic.” They argued it unjustly pun­ishes tra­di­tional spe­cial­ties pro­tected by the European Union in the form of Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications.

Ultra-processed indus­trial food prod­ucts which con­tain preser­v­a­tives obtain an A or a B [on the Nutri-Score scale] while very nat­ural local prod­ucts are stig­ma­tized [with a D or an E],” said Sébastien Vignette, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the con­fed­er­a­tion Roquefort.

The pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tions behind Italian Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano PDOs in Italy and sev­eral Spanish food com­pa­nies also have echoed sim­i­lar con­cerns.

The new mobi­liza­tion to sup­port Nutri-Score’s adop­tion fol­lows a sim­i­lar appeal filed last December by more than 1,000 health care pro­fes­sion­als.

The cam­paign launched against the Nutri-Score by the pro­duc­ers of Roquefort, fol­lowed by those of Rocamadour, Maroilles and many other cheeses and cold cuts, is based on the emblem­atic image enjoyed by these prod­ucts in French gas­tron­omy, their anchor­ing ter­ri­to­r­ial and their tra­di­tional side,” the health pro­fes­sion­als said.

They imply that these prop­er­ties, all wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion, would give them qual­i­ties that would make them unas­sail­able in terms of their nutri­tional com­po­si­tion,” they added.

See Also:Nutri-Score Coverage

According to the health pro­fes­sion­als, Nutri-Score meets a dual objec­tive: to bet­ter inform con­sumers about the nutri­tional qual­ity of foods and allow them to com­pare [food items] with each other; encour­age man­u­fac­tur­ers to improve the com­po­si­tion of their prod­ucts.”

The choice of the logo was made by the gov­ern­ment on the basis of rec­og­nized sci­en­tific work,” they added. Since 2017, its pos­i­tive effect has been doc­u­mented by new research.”

In the opin­ion of the health pro­fes­sion­als, Nutri-Score has proven to be a very use­ful instru­ment for rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness of cor­rect con­sump­tion, thanks to its ease of inter­pre­ta­tion, which sim­pli­fies the read­ing of the nutri­tional val­ues spe­cific to dif­fer­ent foods.”

France, there­fore, has a pub­lic health tool which, in line with other pub­lic health mea­sures, can make it pos­si­ble to have an effect on the nutri­tional sta­tus and health of our fel­low cit­i­zens,” they con­cluded.



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