While the Nutri-Score is present on more and more food products, its calculation method will evolve to become more precise and rigorous, according to Santé Publique France.
It’s a small, colorful logo that has made a name for itself in supermarkets. The Nutri-Score, nutritional labeling which makes it possible to determine the nutrient content of a food product by noting it from A to E and varying from green to red in color – will change from the end of 2023.
Launched in 2017, its calculation method should better take into account food and health knowledge, according to health authorities.
Not precise enough ?
As a reminder, this rating method, developed by Public Health France based on the work of epidemiologist Serge Hercberg, evaluates in particular the content of nutrients to be favored – such as proteins or fibers – and “bad” nutrients – such as sugar, salt, or fatty acids.
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However, for several years, many scientists have denounced the current calculation method applied to determine the grade of a food product that they consider too obsolete or unsuitable. Without questioning its merits, its detractors deplore in particular a certain lack of recommendations which, for example, do not take into account certain additives or sweeteners that are dangerous for the health of the consumer.
“This new algorithm will strengthen the effectiveness of the Nutri-Score to classify foods and beverages in line with the main dietary recommendations of European countries”, then declared in a joint press release the health or agri-food authorities of several countries, including France. and Germany.
“Fighting obesity and diseases”
It is with this in mind that those responsible for Nutri-score have revised, in two stages, its calculation algorithm. After a first step last year on solid foods -poultry will thus be better classified than red meats-, the steering committee has just completed its work on the beverages component.
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This update will, for example, less readily recommend drinks containing sweeteners – such as Diet Coke -, noting that recent studies do not show a crucial advantage over conventional sugars.
Concretely “the evolutions of the Nutri-Score will strengthen its ability to help consumers, including the most vulnerable, to compare the nutritional composition of foods and drinks. Thus, the Nutri-Score will encourage healthier choices, in synergy with policies nutritional measures aimed at preventing chronic diseases and combating obesity”, assures Public Health France.
Towards mandatory labelling?
However, despite its stricter evolution, the Nutri-Score remains non-compulsory, so producers retain the choice of whether or not to affix it to their products.
“Today we see that large groups such as Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, Lactalis or Ferrero oppose Nutri-score. Then, it is certain agricultural unions that defend the interests of charcuteries or cheeses which they consider misclassified”, explained Serge Hercberg to our colleagues from France Culture.
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According to him, the Nutri-Score, “for it to be fully effective” should be attached “on all food packaging. And as today, some companies refuse this transparency, this penalizes consumers. We do not all solve the problems, but giving information on the nutritional composition is already a lot,” he added. For the moment, the new Nutri-Score calculation method should be applied from the end of 2023.