Nutriscore is all about money, not health and diet

In seven countries, the food label is being adjusted. Fewer products reach the A-category afterwards. Italy completely drains the system.

The nutriscore will receive a solid update by the end of the year. The label with the scores from A to E was introduced in 2017 to inform consumers about the nutritional value of products. But it has been contested, as it would not always be in line with the general dietary guidelines.

Therefore, the scientific committee that monitors the nutriscore was asked to make recommendations for an update of the calculation methodology. Those opinions are now there, and the seven countries that use the system – in addition to creator France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – have agreed to adapt the label.

The nutriscore gives food products points, from -15 for the ‘healthiest ‘to +40 for the’unhealthiest’. The main parameters are the calories, saturated fatty acids and the amount of salt and sugar. The scientific committee recommends tightening the scores for the A and B ratings by one point, which would result in fewer products reaching the A category.

The algorithm used to calculate the scores is also tightened in terms of sugars and salt. As a result, some products with the same ingredients will now be charged fifteen to twenty points extra. Unsweetened dairy products also score a lot better than their sugar equivalent.

On the other hand, fat – sugar and salt levels are more precisely balanced against other elements, such as fiber, vitamins and minerals. As a result, wholemeal bread and rice will advance on it, and in some cheeses the score goes up due to the amount of calcium.

Five product categories are customized. Thus, nuts and seeds will no longer fall under “fruits and vegetables”, but under ” fats and oils.” Vegetable oils rich in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil and walnut oil, would get a better score.

Salmon and other fatty fish will also score better, and a distinction will be made between red meat and poultry. As a result, less red meat reaches the A category. Poultry gets a better score on average, except for the processed products.

The scientific committee will make further recommendations for the category of beverages. The nutriscore 2.0 should be ready by the end of the year. However, an adjustment period is foreseen for the sector to adapt the packaging.

On Thursday, the Italian Competition Authority AGCM decided that the nutriscore should no longer be used in the country unless it is accompanied by a warning. The country has long been opposed to the mandatory introduction of the system in Europe.

According to the AGCM, the nutriscore’s “arbitrary” and “biased” classification can be misleading to consumers. Stores that use the label, such as the French supermarket chain Carrefour, must remove the nutriscore for the Italian market. Spain also opposes the label.