Products with PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status, including many Mediterranean products, should not be included in the European Commission's mandatory Nutri-Score labelling, a Spanish MEP has said.
Speaking to Euronews, Spanish MEP Adrián Vázquez Lázara has raised questions over how the Nutri-Score labelling system, which is being rolled out across Europe, benefits consumers when it comes to making healthier food choices.
As he pointed out, the system currently designates Mediterranean products such as olive oil with the same score as Coke Zero, Euronews reported.
"Our fight at the Parliament is to try to leave out of the Nutri-Score labelling the mono ingredients like olive oil, like honey, like ham... those products from protected destinations of origin, and also protected geographical locations, that have already been accepted by society and by governments as top-notch products that represent the image of many member states," he told Euronews.
Products that are labelled PDO have strong links to the place in which they are made, such as Kalamata olive oil PDO, which is produced entirely in the Kalamata region of Greece. PGI products, meanwhile, emphasise a 'relationship between the specific geographic region and the name of the product', according to the European Commission, such as when certain regional techniques are used in preparing cured meats, for example.
It's not the first time that Lázara has spoken out against the Nutri-Score system – at the end of March, he wrote an opinion piece for the Brussels-based EU Observer in which he asked why the 'European Commission [is] undermining the exceptional Mediterranean products that belong to our diet' through the implementation of the Nutri-Score system.
"Behind each product with a EU quality seal that is penalised by Nutri-Score, there are smallholder farmers, producers, agricultural workers and a whole industry hit hard by Covid-19," he wrote. "They have demonstrated to be true heroes during the pandemic and they do not deserve that a blind algorithm ignores their very particular situation.
"We therefore call for the European Commission to open the debate about the algorithm that decides the final colour scale of the product before the Nutri-Score scheme becomes mandatory."
The rollout of the Nutri-Score system forms part of the EU's Farm To Fork sustainable food strategy, which itself is part of the EU's overarching Green Deal.
Many retailers have embraced the labelling – earlier this week, Switzerland's Migros announced it was to update all its private label products to feature Nutri-Score labelling.
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