You can actually find it in many Dutch supermarkets: Nutri-Score. With this food choice logo, you can see at a glance how good the nutritional value of the product is, is the idea. The naming could become mandatory in Europe before the end of this year.
But there is much debate about the usefulness of such a label. Many food producers see no benefit in this, and there is also disagreement among food experts.
Thanks to this label, you no longer have to be a dietitian to analyze the nutritional value of products.
For example, the system causes great outrage among food producers in southern Europe, who find it unfair and misleading. Products like Parmesan cheese, Roquefort, and Iberico ham have poor Nutri-Scores and have a so-called “Protected Designation of Origin”. This means that a product may only have a certain name if it is made in the right way and in a specific place.
This situation prevents these exclusive foods from being cheaper to replicate outside of Italy. But it also ensures that producers can’t modify the recipe for a better Nutri score.
This is why part of the food industry is doing its best to prevent the label from being introduced in its current form. Companies go a long way with that. Very far, the French author of Nutri-Score, Serge Herzberg, knows. “We are dealing with a lot of personal attacks and there are threats through anonymous phone calls.”
Remarkably, there are criticisms not only from food producers, but also from organizations that advocate transparency in packaging. Nutri-Score distinguishes between different product groups. For example, a relatively healthy frozen pizza can get a green A grade, while fatty smoked salmon gets a D. Confusing, Foodwatch’s Frank Lindner thinks. “I wouldn’t recommend eating pizza like this every day.”
Food scientist IJsbrand Velzeboer also has reservations about food-selection slogans like Nutri-Score. He believes that companies will modify their products so that those products get a better score without making the product healthier.
He also found it important that consumers learn more about food, rather than learning to understand an image in colour. “You’re just fooling the consumer.”
Despite reservations, Lindner also sees the advantage of the universal naming. For example, if you are standing in front of a candy shelf and want to make a healthy choice, this is definitely helpful. “Until recently, you had to be a food technologist or dietitian to analyze the nutritional value of products. Nutri-Score will change that.”
This facilitates making healthy choices and helps fight diseases of affluence such as obesity and cancer. This is why the World Health Organization and Consumers Association endorse Nutri-Score.
Label already already two years ago must be entered. The registration date has been postponed to give the scientific committee behind the poster more time to correct the flaws. This committee is composed of independent scholars, two of whom are Dutch.
Dietitian Michele Van Rost thinks it’s a good idea for the committee to take the time to make the final adjustments. For example, white, non-whole-wheat bread previously had a Nutri-Score A. A distinction is now made between whole-wheat and non-whole-wheat bread, but if it were up to Van Roost, that distinction would become Clearer .
Like the Dutch government, it also hopes that Nutri-Score will be compatible with the wheel of the five. This is not the case yet with every product and can lead to confusion. “The two should communicate well with each other, so that consumers can really benefit from them in the future.”
Whether the European introduction will actually happen depends on a final scientific report that could be released at any moment. Based on this report, the Board of Health issues an official recommendation. If this advice is positive, the Netherlands will fully embrace the Nutri-Score.
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