`Nutri-Score Founder: Olive Oil Will Never Attain the Highest Rating - Olive Oil Times

Nutri-Score Founder: Olive Oil Will Never Attain the Highest Rating

By Paolo DeAndreis
Feb. 6, 2023 15:35 UTC

According to one of its founders, Olive oil could never receive a Green A” from Nutri-Score, the top rat­ing from the front-of-pack food label­ing sys­tem (FOPL).

I won­der, is it the eco­nomic sec­tor that decides how to clas­sify a prod­uct, or is it the sci­en­tists?- Serge Hercberg, A Nutr-Score founder

Serge Hercberg, a French nutri­tion­ist at Sorbonne Paris North University, told the Spanish news agency EFE that since the only macronu­tri­ent present in olive oil is fat, it would be impos­si­ble for it to receive an A” grade.

However, he added that this does not dimin­ish olive oil’s impor­tance to human health or the Mediterranean diet.

See Also:Public Health Groups Urge E.U. to Expedite Introduction of Front-of-Pack Food Labels

Hercberg indi­cated that the heart-healthy nature of olive oil’s monoun­sat­u­rated fats was the main rea­son why all cat­e­gories of olive oil will be upgraded from the Yellow C” to the Light-green B” when the algo­rithm under­pin­ning the FOPL sys­tem is updated this year.


Serge Hercberg

I read a lot in the Spanish press that the olive oil sec­tor wants the A rat­ing,” he told EFE. I won­der, is it the eco­nomic sec­tor that decides how to clas­sify a prod­uct, or is it the sci­en­tists? Tomorrow Coca-Cola will say that it wants an A or a B and Nutella from the Ferrero group that it wants a bet­ter eval­u­a­tion.”

What is Nutri-Score?

Nutri-Score is a front-of-pack nutri­tion label­ing sys­tem that assigns a score to food prod­ucts based on their nutri­tional con­tent, such as energy, total sugar, total fat, sat­u­rated fat, fiber, and pro­tein. The score ranges from A (best) to E (worst) and is dis­played on the label using a color-coded sys­tem. It is meant to help con­sumers make health­ier food choices by quickly and eas­ily com­par­ing the nutri­tional value of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts. Nutri-Score was devel­oped by sci­en­tists in Europe and has been adopted in sev­eral coun­tries, includ­ing France, Belgium, and Spain.

José Penco, direc­tor of the Spanish Association of Olive Municipalities (AEMO), was quick to retort: it is not accept­able to com­pare olive oil with Coca-Cola or Nutella nutri­tion­ally. Furthermore, we find it impos­si­ble to believe that this phrase was pro­nounced by a sci­en­tist.”

In a com­ment pub­lished on LinkedIn, Penco added that the request for olive oil to be rated as a Green A” should not be con­sid­ered a request of the olive oil sec­tor.


It is not the eco­nomic sec­tor that decides or pro­poses how to clas­sify extra vir­gin olive oil; it is the mul­ti­tude of stud­ies and clin­i­cal tri­als pub­lished that show that extra vir­gin olive oil is the health­i­est among all known fats,” Penco wrote.

Nutri-Score is a traf­fic-light-style FOPL that uses a com­bi­na­tion of five coor­di­nated col­ors and let­ters to rate how healthy a pack­aged food item is based on its fat, sugar, salt and calo­rie con­tent per 100-gram or mil­li­liter serv­ing. The Green A” indi­cates the health­i­est option, and Red E” denotes the least healthy.

According to Euroactiv, Hercberg said Nutri-Score labels could not pro­vide con­sumers with all pos­si­ble health and nutri­tional infor­ma­tion about any sin­gle food item.

For exam­ple, Nutri-Score does not indi­cate whether foods are ultra-processed, con­tain pes­ti­cides or where the food was grown or pro­duced.

Additionally, Nutri-Score does not rec­om­mend serv­ing sizes of the labeled prod­uct. Still, Hercberg said that Nutri-Score is cur­rently the most effi­cient label­ing sys­tem.

We are not able to add all these ele­ments in a sin­gle label,” he said. You must accept the idea that seg­mented and com­ple­men­tary infor­ma­tion should be given.”

Penco said these types of state­ments from Hercberg gal­va­nize the olive oil sec­tor to con­tinue lob­by­ing against the wide­spread intro­duc­tion of Nutri-Score.

We are proud of the work we have done to halt the pro­posed front-of-pack Nutri-Score labels, even more so when we read such state­ments,” he said.

Nutri-Score is cur­rently among the FOPL sys­tems being stud­ied by the European Commission ahead of its much-delayed plans to intro­duce a manda­tory pan-European food label, which is not expected before 2024.


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