Consumers calls for mandatory Nutri-score labelling in Europe

August 9, 2022


A labelling scheme was considered to be most effective in influencing consumer behaviour and educating consumers about food. An ideal labelling scheme shall be simple and easy for consumers to understand, and this would be enhanced by implementing a scheme that is consistent with existing initiatives.

The Nutri-Score, a package labelling system originally developed by French scientists, includes recommended components such as fiber and certain proteins in addition to the sugar, fat and salt content. It gives a single value for the food in question – on a five-point scale from “A” on a dark green field for the most favourable balance to a yellow “C” and a red “E” for the least favourable. Numerous scientific studies show that the Nutri-Score is the most understandable form of nutrition labelling and helps consumers to choose products that are more balanced. This is a voluntary labelling system initially adopted by France in 2017. Nutri-Score is strongly grounded in science and consumer research, with its underlying scoring method developed by the British Food Standard Agency.

Nutri-Score makes consumers’ shopping baskets healthier. Research has shown that it is
the label that works best in making consumers’ food choices healthier – including for low-income
households, who are most at risk of becoming overweight or obese

The Nutri-Score, also known as the 5-Colour Nutrition label or 5-CNL, is a five-colour nutrition label, and an attempt to simplify the nutritional rating system demonstrating the overall nutritional value of food products. A Nutri-Score for a particular food item is given in one of five classification letters, with ‘A’ being a preferable score and ‘E’ being a detrimental score. The calculation of the score involves seven different parameters of nutrient information per 100g of food which is usually available on food packaging. Now there is a massive campaign among consumers in Europe aiming to make the “Nutri-Score” food labelling system mandatory on all consumer food packaging, to guarantee high-quality nutritional information to European consumers, and to protect their health,

The Nutri-Score has already been adopted by several European countries. France, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, and the Netherlands have introduced the nutritional traffic light. The EU Commission aims to propose a mandatory nutrition labelling model by the end of 2022. The voluntary adoption of Nutri scores labelling in the domestic markets of certain European countries is not effective unless it will be implemented under European law. As the label’s popularity increases, so too do the criticism from the food industry and several politicians who oppose the introduction of the consumer-friendly label in further European countries. 

The Nutri-Score translates the nutritional value of products in a clear 5 letter and colour code. The code takes into account both positive points (fibre content, protein, vegetables, fruit and nuts) and negative points (kilojoules, fat, saturated fatty acids, sugar and salt). The Nutri-Score is a handy indicator that allows you to compare the nutritional values of products within the same assortment at a glance. This makes it easier to make a conscious and balanced food choice. According to its methodological limitations, the system may promote highly processed foods of low nutritional value, while devaluing natural, organic and regional products. The system is not intended as a tool for comparing the nutritional value of products from different categories.

The Nutri-score provide an easily interpretative nutritional quality and promotes a healthier food environment by promptly conveying product nutritional information to consumers that will enable them to take a pre-purchase decision and provide informed choices for healthier food. Moreover, this labelling is easily computable by the food industry and public stakeholders, encouraging healthy competition to improve the nutritional quality of the public food supply.The Nutri-Score is always calculated per 100 g. In other words, it does not take into account the portion you eat of a product. This way you can compare the scores of e.g. different kinds of breakfast cereals or ready-made meals. It immediately shows you which products you can eat regularly and which are less suited for a balanced diet.

How nutri- score label helps the consumers?

The Nutri-Score is a front-of-pack label that gives simple nutritional information about food and beverages, utilising five distinct colours used to categorise food products in five classifications: from the A (dark) category green), signifying higher nutritional value category E quality (dark orange), implying a lower nutritional quality.

Nutri-score is not telling people what they shouldn’t eat, it helps to point consumers in a more positive direction. It promotes moderation and balance rather than the blacklisting of certain products.

This Nutri-score labelling helps consumers to make healthier food choices easily from a wide variety of food products from supermarkets. Its goal is to allow consumers to compare the overall nutritional value of food products from the same group (category), including food products from different manufacturers. The main objective of this type of labelling is to help consumers promptly make an informed choice from among similarly packaged products by differentiating those that should be consumed in greater quantities from those that should be consumed in moderation. If consumers are not aware of this, information placed on product packaging may be misinterpreted. This nutrition label is now promoted as a model to enable a uniform food labelling system across the European Union.

This ranking system was created to assist in directing customers better eating options and, as a result, a variety of nutrition-related chronic conditions

The result for a specific food or beverage is computed by giving points based on the content 100 g (or 100 mL per 100 g for beverages) carbohydrates, energy, saturated fatty acids Sodium, dietary fibres, and proteins are all important as well as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains almonds (and, as of 2019, olive, rapeseed, and sesame)as well as nut oils).It has recommended changes to the protein, salt, and sugar content.

Calculating your product’s Nutri-Score

Developing country suppliers can calculate the Nutri-Score of the products they export to European markets by using this online calculator. Different calculation methods have been developed for fats (oil and butter), cheese, drinks and all other food products. Nutri-Score is not available for alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea or baby food up to the age of three. The calculation process has been facilitated by barcode scanning and the use of a smartphone application called SmartWithFood.


A committee formed to examine the Nutri-Score front-of-pack labelling scheme has suggested improvements.

The French-developed Nutri-Score system uses a traffic-light system to grade the nutritional quality of foods from A to E. Many European nations have embraced it, and shops and manufacturers including Nestlé, Danone, and Kellogg have implemented the labels in specific areas. However, it has also drawn criticism.

Last October, France’s food minister, Julien Denormandie, stated that Nutri-methodology Score should be reviewed because it can lead to product classifications that are “not necessarily in conformity with dietary preferences.”

The Nutri-Score Scientific Committee (ScC) was formed by seven European countries involved in Nutri-Score governance to examine potential changes to the scheme, and it has recently issued its suggestions.

According to the ScC, the scheme works well generally, and the suggested areas for development include “domains in which further alignment between the Nutri-Score classification and food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) could be sought after.”

Its technical recommendations include a modified sugar component, which uses a point allocation scale aligned with the regulation of 3.75 percent of the 90g reference value, and a modified salt component, which uses a point allocation scale aligned with the regulation of 3.75 percent of the 64g reference value.

According to the ScC, fibre and protein components must also be modified. It also suggested adjustments to the component of fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The committee has also proposed removing nuts and oils from the list of ingredients that qualify for this category, while adding nuts and seeds to an expanded fats, oils, nuts, and seeds category.

It has also suggested a modified energy component set as saturate energy.

The committee also requests that unique criteria for red meat products be included in the primary algorithm for general foods.

The ScC stated that the next stage is to upgrade the Nutri-Score algorithm for beverages, which will include milk-based beverages, by the end of this year.

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