`Nutri-Score Algorithm Update Improves Olive Oil Scores - Olive Oil Times

Nutri-Score Algorithm Update Improves Olive Oil Scores

Aug. 10, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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A sig­nif­i­cant update to the Nutri-Score algo­rithm will improve the rat­ing of some grades of olive oil, includ­ing extra vir­gin olive oil.

The revised rat­ing sys­tem will soon con­sider all olive oils in its Light-green‑B cat­e­gory, a step above the cur­rent Yellow‑C and just one step below the health­i­est rat­ing, the Green‑A.

The changes in the com­pu­ta­tion of the under­ly­ing Nutri-Score algo­rithm as rec­om­mended by the sci­en­tific com­mit­tee are not linked to the insis­tence of food pro­duc­ers.- Serge Hercberg, cre­ator, Nutri-Score

Its back­ers said the French-born front-of-pack-label­ing (FOPL) sys­tem had under­gone a broad review in the last 18 months, which set the basis for a sig­nif­i­cant over­haul of the algo­rithm. The new rat­ings will affect sev­eral dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of food.

Yes, the Nutri-Score algo­rithm will be changed in the near future,” Serge Hercberg, the cre­ator of Nutri-Score and nutri­tion pro­fes­sor at the University of Sorbonne Paris Nord, told Olive Oil Times.

See Also:Food Health App Receives Green Light in Italy After Curtailing Nutri-Score Influence

The updated rat­ing of fats, such as olive oil and veg­etable oils, will con­sider their macro-nutri­tional com­po­si­tion, such as the pres­ence of sat­u­rated fatty acids.

In gen­eral, veg­etable oils are improved by one [rat­ing],” Hercberg said. Vegetable oils with low lev­els of sat­u­rated fatty acids, such as rape­seed, wal­nut and oleic sun­flower oil, can reach the B clas­si­fi­ca­tion, as does olive oil. Sunflower oil is shifted to the C clas­si­fi­ca­tion.”

For the other prod­ucts in the cat­e­gory, the clas­si­fi­ca­tion remains unchanged, with coconut oil and but­ter remain­ing clas­si­fied as E in the Nutri-Score,” he added.

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Nutri-Score is a five-color-let­ter food rat­ing sys­tem, with scores rang­ing from the Green‑A down to the Red‑E. The FOPL is designed to help con­sumers make health­ier choices in the super­mar­ket. The algo­rithm deter­mines a food item’s score based on the macronu­tri­ent con­tent per 100 grams or mil­li­liters.

Nutri-Score is a pub­lic health tool built and val­i­dated by numer­ous sci­en­tific stud­ies,” Hercberg said. When it was pro­posed by sci­en­tists in 2014… it was expected that its algo­rithm would evolve and be reg­u­larly revised on the basis of the evo­lu­tion of sci­en­tific knowl­edge and the expe­ri­ence of its deploy­ment.”

Along with its intro­duc­tion in France, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, Nutri-Score is also con­sid­ered the front-run­ner among the food labels being con­sid­ered for Europen Union-wide adop­tion. A for­mal deci­sion is expected to come before the end of the year.

The steer­ing com­mit­tee, formed at the begin­ning of last year by the seven European coun­tries that have adopted Nutri-Score, announced the review of the FOPL’s algo­rithm.

Its goal is to facil­i­tate the debate on Nutri-Score, sup­port food pro­duc­ers in using and under­stand­ing Nutri-Score and sup­port the work of the sci­en­tific branch.

The sci­en­tific com­mit­tee, which was tasked with devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing the label­ing plat­form, pre­sented the report on the update.

The update rebal­ances how the algo­rithm con­sid­ers the food’s nutri­tional ele­ments. In the case of olive oil, its polyphe­nols and other micronu­tri­ents are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

The updated algo­rithm also changes how nuts, seeds and other fats are rated, with a spe­cial rule for red meat.

More specif­i­cally, Nutri-Score now gives higher pri­or­i­ties to ele­ments such as sodium and sugar and will align red meat rat­ings with the coun­tries’ nutri­tional guide­lines, many of which rec­om­mend reduc­ing red meat con­sump­tion. The update will also improve the rat­ing for fish and whole­grains com­pared to refined prod­ucts.

Overall, the analy­sis of the lit­er­a­ture showed that there was sub­stan­tial evi­dence of the ben­e­fi­cial effect of olive oil on the risk of type 2 dia­betes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and all-cause mor­tal­ity, with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of stud­ies being per­formed,” the report’s authors wrote.

Given the evi­dence that veg­etable oils, in par­tic­u­lar olive oil, have demon­strated ben­e­fi­cial effects on health, mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the algo­rithm could be per­formed to improve the scor­ing of olive and other veg­etable oils with favor­able nutri­ent pro­files in the sys­tem and sup­port dietary guide­lines that advo­cate the mod­er­ate use of veg­etable oils prefer­ably to other fats,” they added.

The review involved sci­en­tists from the coun­tries where Nutri-Score is already deployed. According to the report, upgrad­ing the algo­rithm has included thor­oughly exam­in­ing each com­po­nent of the cur­rent algo­rithm, the areas of improve­ment and the poten­tial impact of every change.

Farmers, bot­tlers and mar­keters in Europe’s three largest pro­duc­ing coun­tries have long crit­i­cized Nutri-Scores rat­ing of olive oil. Similar crit­i­cism has come from the pro­duc­ers of other tra­di­tional food prod­ucts, includ­ing French and Italian cheese pro­duc­ers.

The changes in the com­pu­ta­tion of the under­ly­ing Nutri-Score algo­rithm as rec­om­mended by the sci­en­tific com­mit­tee are not linked to the insis­tence of food pro­duc­ers, be it olive oil or other types of food,” Hercberg said. The mod­i­fi­ca­tions are based exclu­sively on sci­en­tific and pub­lic health con­sid­er­a­tions.”

“[They] lead to changes for some food groups, and more specif­i­cally intro­duce bet­ter dis­crim­i­na­tion among food prod­ucts accord­ing to their nutri­tional com­po­si­tion,” he added. Concerning cheese, only low-salt hard cheeses, such as Emmental, can now be clas­si­fied as C in the Nutri-Score. Others con­tinue to rank D or E, such as Roquefort.”

The changes will not imme­di­ately come into effect as any mod­i­fi­ca­tions will affect the food pro­duc­tion chain, the nodes of which might need some time to digest the news.

The steer­ing com­mit­tee explained that the new algo­rithm will be effec­tive soon, at the end of a suf­fi­cient time for food pro­duc­ers to imple­ment the label,” Hercberg said.

It must also be con­sid­ered that more infor­ma­tion from the com­mit­tee is still pend­ing, specif­i­cally on bev­er­ages, sweet­ened drinks and oth­ers,” he added.

Hercberg empha­sized that the team behind Nutri-Score will sup­port food pro­duc­ers in the coun­tries that have already deployed the FOPL. He hopes Nutri-Score will become manda­tory due to its sci­en­tif­i­cally-demon­strated ben­e­fits to pub­lic health.

We hope that the deci­sion of the European Commission will not be affected by the pres­sures com­ing from some big food com­pa­nies, agri­cul­tural sec­tors or coun­tries defend­ing their eco­nomic inter­est,” Hercberg said.

We hope that it will instead be entirely based on sci­ence and the sci­en­tific stud­ies pub­lished by inde­pen­dent aca­d­e­mic research teams, also con­sid­er­ing the demand for such a solu­tion that comes from the con­sumers them­selves,” he con­cluded.



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