Seven European countries advocate for Nutri-Score on packaging

23 Feb 2021

Out of the 40 countries that comprise Europe, seven have now joined forces to promote the use of the Nutri-Score system as the standard front-of-pack (FOP) labeling for products sold across the EU. Supporting countries include France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

Although there have been suggestions that this labeling system is the preference of the European government, the European Commission has refrained from directly endorsing this approach. Instead, the Commission has maintained that it will investigate various labeling systems to produce impact assessments on the front-running FOP systems used across Europe today.

Seven European countries advocate for Nutri-Score on packaging
Image via Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

The Nutri-Score system was devised in France and operates by scoring a food product with a number between -15 and 50, which then informs the corresponding letter “grade” that a product is given. Those items with lower scores are considered healthiest and can earn a dark green “A” on their label. However, products with larger numbers are considered less healthy, which can result in a dark red “F” plastered on the front of a package.

Several major manufacturers support the Nutri-Score approach with Nestlé and Danone leading the industry. Already the multinationals have classified thousands of products within their respective portfolios according to this color-coded nutritional ranking.

But not everyone is supportive of the initiative to roll Nutri-Score out Europe-wide. The country of Italy has maintained that the labeling scheme unfairly penalizes many of its traditional food products like parmesan and olive oil which have high fat content despite being integral to the Mediterranean diet, which is widely considered to be healthy. Italian health ministers have proposed an alternative called NutrInform, which displays the percentage of fats, saturated fats, salt and sugar in respect to recommended daily intake in a traffic light.

Sweden too has expressed concern over a Europe-wide rollout of the Nutri-Score system saying that it will minimize the country’s control to encourage the development of products with whole grains. The Nordic country currently uses a keyhole logo system where companies that adhere to government-set requirements for fat, sugar, salt, fiber and whole grain content are eligible to carry the keyhole logo on-pack.

Although there remains no consensus across Europe as to which FOP labeling system will become standard, for countries that currently support the Nutri-Score system, there is active encouragement to expand the use of the system within their borders. Furthermore, now that these seven countries have formed a Translational Coordination Mechanism to make their stance on the implementation of Nutri-Score official, there is little question that the battle for customer nutritional education through front-of-pack labeling will continue.

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