Italy’s Largest PDO Cheese Consortia Unite to Oppose Nutri-Score

The boards of the Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano PDO consortia said they both reject Nutri-Score. The label also faces new challenges in Spain.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jul. 20, 2021 08:43 UTC

The orga­ni­za­tions behind two rival tra­di­tional Italian cheese spe­cial­ties, Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, held a joint board meet­ing for the first time in their his­tory.

At the meet­ing, the two con­sor­tia behind the mas­sive Protected Designation of Origin-pro­tected cheeses said they would work together to oppose the adop­tion of Nutri-Score as the offi­cial front-of-pack food label­ing (FOPL) sys­tem of Italy and Europe.

Cheeses get penal­ized because they have fats, but no con­sid­er­a­tion is given to the many strate­gic nutri­tional con­tents they offer.- Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO Consortia, 

They also decided that the oper­a­tors in their respec­tive food chains will see their autho­riza­tions can­celed should they add Nutri-Score or sim­i­lar sys­tems to the labels on the two kinds of cheese.

The nutri­tional qual­i­ties of Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano make them two of the PDO food prod­ucts most loved by con­sumers,” Renato Zaghini, pres­i­dent of the PDO Grana Padano Consortium.

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

Nutri-Score denies the more estab­lished and updated rec­om­men­da­tions shared by nutri­tion­ists through­out the whole world, where the right bal­ance between qual­ity and quan­tity is the key to healthy nutri­tion at any age,” he added.

The Nutri-Score algo­rithm assigns a col­or­ful let­ter score to food, from the Green A,” which is the health­i­est, down to the Red E.” It takes into con­sid­er­a­tion food nutri­tional con­tents such as fats, salts and sug­ars per 100 grams, and it is meant to let con­sumers quickly com­pare between food items of the same cat­e­gory.

According to the two con­sor­tia, whose trade vol­umes are by far the most sig­nif­i­cant among Italian PDOs, sys­tems, such as Nutri-Score, are mis­lead­ing for the con­sumers.

These sys­tems do not take into account the bal­ance among the dif­fer­ent food in a diet, nei­ther con­sider the whole organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics of the prod­ucts itself,” the boards of both con­sor­tia said in a press release.

Cheeses get penal­ized because they have fats, but no con­sid­er­a­tion is given to the many strate­gic nutri­tional con­tents they offer: cal­cium, func­tional fatty acids, fat-sol­u­ble vit­a­mins, essen­tial amino acids,” they added. That is, valu­able ele­ments for a healthy and bal­anced diet.”

Nutri-Score clas­si­fies the two Italian kinds of cheese with an Orange D” but accord­ing to the Consortia a meal with 80 grams of pasta, 20 grams of extra vir­gin olive oil and 20 grams of PDO cheese would end up being clas­si­fied as Light Green B” or an even Green A.”


This is why the label­ing sys­tems based on traf­fic-light style labels must be con­sid­ered deval­u­at­ing the PDOs because they dis­cour­age the con­sump­tion in absence of any nutri­tional rea­son,” the Consortias’ boards wrote.

The two boards agreed on sup­port­ing the Italian gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives against the con­sol­i­da­tion of Nutri-Score through­out Europe, asked all the PDO orga­ni­za­tions to join them to safe­guard con­sumers’ health and the invest­ments of com­pa­nies who focus on qual­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity.”

As a result, the Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano PDO Consortia said they will not autho­rize PDO offi­cial tags from the oper­a­tors in the food chain that should choose to adopt those labels on the pack­ag­ing of the two PDOs prod­ucts.”

The Italian fed­er­a­tion of the food indus­try Federalimentare has also come out in oppo­si­tion to Nutri-Score, accus­ing it of being adverse to food sus­tain­abil­ity.

In a HuffingtonPost arti­cle, Federalimentare pres­i­dent Ivano Vacondio wrote that sus­tain­abil­ity is the key global chal­lenge for agribusi­ness.

In the name of sus­tain­abil­ity, the Nutri-Score game has begun and in name of sus­tain­abil­ity today many accuse the Mediterranean diet and favor mas­sive and uni­form food sys­tems that are far away from the nutri­tional val­ues of our Made in Italy’ food,” Vacondio wrote.

While sus­tain­abil­ity is at the core of the agribusi­ness, he added, there are coun­tries that want to attack Italian qual­ity and set up mis­shapen attempts to erode mar­ket share from the Italian food indus­try, which in 2019 reached €35.9 bil­lion, and that in 2021 aims at repeat­ing or even over­tak­ing those vol­umes.”

Nutri-Score, which has been adopted in a grow­ing num­ber of European coun­tries has also been heav­ily crit­i­cized in Spain, where its ongo­ing adop­tion con­tin­ues to be opposed.

In Andalusia, the largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region in the world, the local par­lia­ment has just voted on a res­o­lu­tion ask­ing the national gov­ern­ment to stop the spread­ing of the Nutri-Score label­ing sys­tem in Spain in order to pro­tect agri­food pro­duc­tion and the Mediterranean diet.”


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