Italy has once again voiced its concern that the Nutri-Score system, which has been proposed as a European Union-wide front-of-pack food labeling system, unfairly discriminates against traditional Italian foods including olive oil, Parma ham and Parmigiano cheese.
Teresa Bellanova, the Italian Minister of Agriculture has been lobbying other E.U. governments on the issue and has called for the protection of foods that she hailed as “pillars of the Mediterranean diet.” Greece and Romania have lent their support to Italy’s stance.See more: Scientists Want a Climate Label Added to Europe’s Nuti-Score
At a recent meeting of agricultural leaders in Germany, Bellanova told ministers that the algorithms used to calculate Nutri-Score were “reductive” and could mislead consumers.
While France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands have agreed to voluntarily adopt Nutri-Score (along with many of Europe’s major food producers and retailers), the Italian Ministry of Economic Development presented its own alternative labeling system, the Nutrinform battery.
Both labeling systems are aimed at encouraging Europeans to eat more nutritious foods to improve health.
The Nutri-Score system has been hailed for its simplicity to implement as each foodstuff is simply awarded a color-coded letter. However, opponents have criticized it for oversimplifying the nutritious value of certain products and unfairly penalizing some foods which are widely consumed as part of the Mediterranean diet.
Back in August, the European Commission approved the implementation of Italy’s Nutrinform battery food labelling system, which gave Italian producers the go-ahead to place the Nutrinform labels on their food packaging. The move also implied that the Italian system would compete with the French-favored Nutri-Score to become the E.U.’s official food classification system.
Nutri-Score was designed to classify the nutritional profile of food and beverages with a simple color coded system that ranks foods on a scale from A to E. (A being the healthiest options and E being the least healthy.)
The Nutrinform concept was developed to make it easier for consumers to understand how a specific product can be consumed as part of a healthy diet. Rather than labelling any food as either good or bad, Nutrinform displays the nutritional value and energy intake of the product using a battery graphic.
However, a study recently published in the journal, Nutrients, found that the Nutri-Score label was more effective than the Nutrinform label as well as several others in helping consumers rank food items by nutritional quality.