`PDO Cheese Producers Say Nutri-Score Ignores Italian Culinary Tradition - Olive Oil Times

PDO Cheese Producers Say Nutri-Score Ignores Italian Culinary Tradition

Mar. 21, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Afidop, an Italian cheese pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion includ­ing many Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses, has warned that wide­spread adop­tion of Nutri-Score may lead to less cheese con­sump­tion.

The label is putting cheeses which are the sym­bol of Made in Italy at risk,” Afidop said in a press release. It is now pos­si­ble that one day we will have a Caprese with­out the Campania’s buf­falo moz­zarella or spaghetti in tomato sauce with­out the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or even a risotto with radic­chio and Gorgonzola with no Gorgonzola in it.”

By penal­iz­ing the cer­ti­fied cheeses, Nutri-Score endan­gers recipes where the pres­ence of that ingre­di­ent is a fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tic, both at home and at the restau­rant.- Davide Oldani, Michelin-star chef

Afidop lamented how the low scores that Nutri-Score gives to cheeses could drive pro­duc­ers out of the mar­ket.

The asso­ci­a­tion cited the recent Waste Watcher International sur­vey, which they said con­firmed that lower Nutri-Score rat­ings cause con­sumers to avoid low-scor­ing food.

See Also:European Parliament Recommends Adoption of Europe-Wide Food Labels

The European Commission is cur­rently eval­u­at­ing the French-born front-of-pack label­ing (FOPL) sys­tem for manda­tory adop­tion across the European Union.

Nutri-Score is a traf­fic-light-style label that gives pack­aged food items one of five let­ter-color scores, from the health­i­est Green A” down to the Red E.” The rat­ings are assigned by an algo­rithm based on the con­tent of salt, fat, sugar and calo­ries per 100-gram or mil­li­liter sam­ple.


The labels are meant to allow the con­sumer to com­pare dif­fer­ent food items in the same cat­e­gory at a glance.

The high level of fats in most cheeses trans­lates into lower scores, which have already been defined as puni­tive” by the General Confederation of Roquefort, in France.

Meanwhile, iconic Italian cheeses, includ­ing Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, Pecorino Romano PDO or Gorgonzola PDO, are all rated with an Orange D” by the Nutri-Score algo­rithm.

We say no to Nutri-Score and those kinds of labels based on fixed amounts,” said Antonio Auricchio, Afidop pres­i­dent. They are com­pletely detached from the actual con­sump­tion in a daily diet.”

They are deceiv­ing tools which under­value the PDO prod­ucts’ rep­u­ta­tion and dis­cour­age the con­sump­tion of our recipes by triv­i­al­iz­ing the nutri­tional value of our prod­ucts,” he added.

To this end, Afidop announced that it is join­ing forces with the Consortia for the Protection of PDOs to cre­ate the Say No to Nutri-Score” social net­work cam­paign and focus on 10 tra­di­tional Italian recipes in which cheese plays a dis­tinc­tive role. With the adop­tion of Nutri-Score, pro­duc­ers said they worry some of these dishes may dis­ap­pear.

To rein­force its cam­paign, Afidop asked Italian physi­cian Luca Piretta, a gas­troen­terol­o­gist and nutri­tion­ist, for his opin­ion on Nutri-Score.

Diet is a daily behav­ior,” Piretta said. It is not made only of one type of food. Not by green-coded food that makes you think you can eat that with no lim­its, nor by red-coded food that makes that food appear as for­bid­den. It is edu­ca­tion and nutri­tional con­scious­ness that make the dif­fer­ence.”

Afidop also cited Davide Oldani, a Michelin-star chef, who said, behind every PDO cheese, there is an enogas­tro­nomic her­itage made of unique tra­di­tions, peo­ple, ter­ri­to­ries and cli­mates.”

By penal­iz­ing the cer­ti­fied cheeses, Nutri-Score endan­gers recipes where the pres­ence of that ingre­di­ent is a fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tic, both at home and at the restau­rant,” he added.

Afidop also ref­er­enced offi­cial data about Italy’s cer­ti­fied food mar­ket value, stat­ing that Nutri-Score would put a €4.2‑billion sec­tor with 55 cer­ti­fied kinds of cheese and 26,000 work­ers at risk.

According to the asso­ci­a­tion, foods that are sym­bols of the Mediterranean diet could dis­ap­pear, and Afidop accuses Nutri-Score of ignor­ing its prin­ci­ples.

However, Serge Hercberg, Nutri-Score’s cre­ator, pre­vi­ously told Olive Oil Times how the Mediterranean diet pri­mar­ily pro­motes con­sump­tion of fruits, veg­eta­bles and whole grains, only rec­om­mend­ing lim­ited con­sump­tion of dairy prod­ucts and meat.

It favors olive oil among added fats but does not rec­om­mend its con­sump­tion ad libi­tum,” he said. The Mediterranean diet does not, there­fore, under any cir­cum­stances, as the Italian argu­ments sug­gest, pro­mote cheeses and processed meats, whether Italian or not.”

Unsurprisingly, Italian cheese pro­duc­ers have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion.

We are for cor­rect and com­plete infor­ma­tion for the con­sumer, aimed at a bal­anced and healthy diet,” Auricchio con­cluded. That is why we join all those in Italy and through­out Europe who believe Nutri-Score is a plat­form that is deceiv­ing the con­sumer, and we encour­age pub­lic insti­tu­tions to work against the enact­ment of this pro­posal.”



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