The years-long struggle for EU-wide nutrition labelling is entering its final phase. According to the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, food sold throughout the EU will soon be labelled with a standardised, Europe-wide Front-of-Package (FOP) label.
Until now, the French-backed Nutri-Score was considered one of the candidates. However, after the recent Future of Food Summit, it has become clear that the Commission is unlikely to recommend this system as the preferred labelling. During the summit, the deputy director for food sustainability in the Commission’s DG SANTE, Claire Bury, left little room for doubt, saying that “it will not be Nutri-Score” and that the Commission is “looking at a number of different rating systems” and “weighing the merits of each”.
For years, Nutri-Score has been the darling of the intensifying competition for food labelling in Europe. Originally developed in France and now managed by Belgian retail giant Colruyt Group, the system has already been adopted by several European countries, including France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands, which have long pushed for Nutri-Score to become the healthy food pillar of the EU’s farm-to-table strategy.
Nutri-Score’s fundamental flaws undermine all attempts to improve public health in Europe in the face of rising obesity. The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) recently found that Nutri-Score has an undue “bias” that prevents consumers from making well-informed food choices. According to the AGCM, Nutri-Score’s arbitrary classification of food content does not help consumers make an assessment to ensure “adequate daily nutrient intake based on the individual’s needs and nutritional profile”.
Other experts have also criticised the algorithm’s other weaknesses, including Nutri-Score’s “spot blindness” to processed foods.