`Hundreds of Scientists Support Adoption of Nutri-Score Labeling System - Olive Oil Times

Hundreds of Scientists Support Adoption of Nutri-Score Labeling System

Mar. 17, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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The European Union should adopt Nutri-Score as a uni­ver­sal and manda­tory front-of-pack nutri­tional label (FOPL) to pro­tect the health of its cit­i­zens, read a peti­tion signed by almost 300 sci­en­tists and health pro­fes­sion­als from dozens of European coun­tries.

In a pub­lic call, they praised the high sci­en­tific pro­file of Nutri-Score and rebuked the alter­na­tive pro­pos­als, which they believe can not com­pete with Nutri-Score’s proven effi­cacy.

Only sci­ence should guide pol­icy deci­sion-mak­ing in the field of pub­lic health. The choice of the sin­gle har­mo­nized front-of-pack nutri­tion label for Europe must meet this sin­gle require­ment and not the inter­ests of eco­nomic oper­a­tors or states that defend them.- Nutri-Score peti­tion, 

In the peti­tion, the Nutri-Score’s sup­port­ers said that alter­na­tive label­ing sys­tems such as the Nutrinform Battery are the result of the pres­sure of pow­er­ful lob­bies, sup­ported by some mem­ber states.”

According to sci­en­tists on the call, those lob­bies have used mis­lead­ing state­ments to dis­credit and off­set the choice of Nutri-Score.”

More specif­i­cally, the peti­tion attacks the Italian-backed Nutrinform Battery.

It is not sup­ported by any sci­en­tific evi­dence what­so­ever,” the peti­tion reads. Moreover, its con­cept and design are very sim­i­lar to the GDA/RIs [guide­line daily amount and ref­er­ence intakes] for­mat set up by food com­pa­nies in the 2000s and shown by numer­ous stud­ies to be entirely inef­fec­tive.”

Nutri-Score is a let­ter and color-based food label­ing sys­tem, which has already been adopted by sev­eral European coun­tries and is the front-run­ner among the sev­eral food label­ing plat­forms that E.U. is con­sid­er­ing for adop­tion, a deci­sion that the European Commission expects to announce by the end of 2022.

See Also: Nutri-Score Updates

In the peti­tion, 269 sci­en­tists and health pro­fes­sion­als joined by 21 expert asso­ci­a­tions from 32 dif­fer­ent coun­tries empha­sized how Nutri-Score has been the sub­ject of numer­ous sci­en­tific stud­ies pub­lished in peer-reviewed inter­na­tional sci­en­tific jour­nals demon­strat­ing its effec­tive­ness and rel­e­vance to con­sumers and pub­lic health and its supe­ri­or­ity to other labels imple­mented in other coun­tries or sup­ported by pres­sure groups.”

Attached to the call, there are ref­er­ences to more than 40 research papers that explored the effects and the impact of the label­ing sys­tem adop­tion.

Only sci­ence should guide pol­icy deci­sion-mak­ing in the field of pub­lic health,” the peti­tion reads. The choice of the sin­gle har­mo­nized front-of-pack nutri­tion label for Europe must meet this sin­gle require­ment and not the inter­ests of eco­nomic oper­a­tors (man­u­fac­tur­ers, retail­ers or spe­cific food sec­tors) or states that defend them.”

Nutri-Score has already been adopted by sev­eral coun­tries, includ­ing Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. However, Italy, the Czech Republic and sev­eral other coun­tries have voiced their con­cerns about the neg­a­tive impact Nutri-Score may have on their tra­di­tional food prod­ucts.

Highly renowned food, includ­ing many prod­ucts with pro­tected geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tors, have nutri­tional val­ues that often do not allow them to obtain the top Nutri-Score clas­si­fi­ca­tions.

That is the case of extra vir­gin olive oil, which is cur­rently labeled as a Yellow C,” a cou­ple of grades lower than the Green A,” the health­i­est rat­ing by the FOPL.

This is mainly because Nutri-Score con­sid­ers the nutri­tional qual­i­ties for a given quan­tity of 100 grams or 100 mil­li­liters so that any veg­etable oil or ani­mal fat can­not score higher than a Yellow C.”

However, pro­po­nents of Nutri-Score have long asserted that the FOPL is meant to enable con­sumers to make com­par­isons among food belong­ing to the same food cat­e­gory.

The sig­na­to­ries pro­vide some exam­ples in the doc­u­ments attached to the call, such as com­par­ing fruit cook­ies to choco­late cook­ies; or meat lasagna to salmon lasagna or spinach lasagna… In each of these cat­e­gories, the Nutri-Score can vary largely and so it pro­vides use­ful infor­ma­tion for con­sumers, per­mit­ting them to make an informed choice.”

The group of European sci­en­tists sup­port­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of Nutri-Score also attached to a paper enti­tled The Front-of-Pack nutri­tion label Nutri-Score: a pub­lic health tool to improve the nutri­tional sta­tus of the pop­u­la­tion that is based on rig­or­ous sci­en­tific back­ground” to the call.

In the paper, the inner work­ings of the clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem, Nutri-Score’s algo­rithm and the sci­en­tific back­ground upon which Nutri-Score was based are all exam­ined.

The paper also aims to dis­arm some con­cerns about the French-born FOPL, empha­siz­ing that Nutri-Score does not aim to inform about the nutri­tional qual­ity of foods in absolute value. It is not intended to char­ac­ter­ize foods as healthy’ or unhealthy’ as does a binary logo.”

Instead, the paper argues that the grad­ual nature of the logo, with five color/letter clas­si­fi­ca­tions, offers a more com­pre­hen­sive com­par­i­son among food items and allows con­sumers to make an informed deci­sion about what pur­chases are best for them.

We have to make it clear that Nutri-Score does not give a seal of approval and there­fore does not rec­om­mend foods clas­si­fied A or B on the pre­text that they would be healthy,’” the paper con­cluded. It only empha­sizes that these prod­ucts are to be pre­ferred over their lower-ranked Nutri-Score equiv­a­lents or alter­na­tives that can be com­pet­i­tive’ with the con­sumer at the time of pur­chase or con­sump­tion.”


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