Although companies in Germany will be now able to use Nutri-Score it is not mandatory for businesses. The scheme provides a combined scale of colours of letters from a green A to a red E designed to make it easier for consumers to recognise and compare the nutritional quality of products.
Klöckner said: “One of the major nutritional policy projects for Germany has been successfully implemented. Now the economy and trade have to keep pace. The Nutri-Score offers consumers easily understandable and comparable information and is therefore a helpful orientation on the supermarket shelf. The healthy choice should be as easy as possible. I have a clear expectation of the food industry that they will use the labelling – we have now created the legal requirements for this. Regardless of this, I am committed to harmonizing the extended nutrition labelling at EU level.”
With the EC currently mulling which mandatory nutrition label to choose as part of its Farm-to-Fork sustainable food strategy later this year, Nutri-Score, which classifies food and beverages according to their nutritional profile by using a colour-coded system with a scale ranging from A (healthier choices) to E (less healthy choices), is the current favourite.
Governments in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium have opted for Nutri-Score as their voluntary labelling scheme of choice. Many major retailers and food producers in Europe such as Nestlé, Kellogg and Danone have also voluntarily chosen to adopt Nutri-Score. The likes of Danone and Nestle are also urging the UK government to switch from traffic light nutrition labels to Nutri-Score as the country consults on its new obesity strategy.
Nutri-Score is not without its critics, however. The Italian government has voiced strong criticism of the system, fearing that it will have a negative impact on traditional Italian delicacies such as cured meats and cheeses.
The EU farmers lobby COPA-COGECA shares Italy’s fears that the system’s algorithms simplify nutritional information and risks penalising some of the core products of the Mediterranean diet such as olive oil.
“Any front-of-pack nutrition labelling should be science based and take into account the complexity of food products when establishing their overall nutritional contribution, and not be based exclusively on certain nutrients. By focusing solely on a very limited number of nutrients such as sugar, fat and salt or the energy intake, we end up setting aside nutritiously valuable food products such as honey and promoting unhealthy ones such as aspartame based diet soft drinks,” said Pekka Pesonen, Copa and Cogeca Secretary General.
“Many of the products that could be damaged by such a simplistic approach to nutrition labelling are revered for their health benefits and are at the heart of traditional diets like the Mediterranean one. They contribute to food diversity, which is a cornerstone of any balanced diet. Painting them red won’t help the consumers or the producers.”