Producers of Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano cheese in Italy have joined forces to oppose the Nutri-Score nutritional labelling system.
The system assigns a colour (from green to red) and a letter (from A to E) to food items, based on an algorithm that takes into account calories, fat and sugar content.
The two cheese-producing consortia claim that this system is both 'misleading' and 'deceptive', as the actual consumption of products by consumers does not correspond to the quantity at the base of the algorithm.
Balance Between Food Items
They also pointed out that the system does not consider the balance between food items in an individual's diet, nor the overall organoleptic characteristics of the product itself.
In particular, cheeses are penalised for the presence of fats, neglecting the fact that they provide many essential nutrients, such as calcium, functional fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and essential amino acids, which are crucial for a healthy and balanced diet.
In the opinion of the two consortia, the Nutri-Score system, with its base on generic information, “betrays its ultimate goal, that is to guarantee healthy, balanced and correct choices from a nutritional point of view.”
In April of this year, a Spanish MEP said 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.
According to Nutri-Score, Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano would be classified as orange.
However, a plate of pasta with 80 grams of pasta, 20 grams of extra virgin olive oil, and 20 grams of hard DOP cheese would be, as a whole, green.
According to the two consortia, these inconsistencies do not consider the actual quantities of cheese consumed and unfairly punish them without an objective reason, devaluating the image of both Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano.
They have called on all producers of Italian PDO excellences to support initiatives launched by the Italian government against this labelling system.
In 2020, Grana Padano saw growth in production, exports and consumption despite the COVID-19 pandemic.