The Italian government, food producers, trade associations and retailers have joined forces to create a united front to oppose the adoption of Nutri-Score.
The nutritional labelling system, launched by the French and adopted in several EU countries, uses a 'traffic light' system of five colours and five letters to signal excess sugar, fat and salt in foods.
Nutrinform Battery Food Classification System
As an alternative, the Italians have adopted the Nutrinform Battery food classification system that takes into account the daily nutritional intake.
While Nutri-Score focuses on the stand-alone product on sale, Nutrinform considers the product within the context of a complex daily diet.
The Nutrinform presents the calories, fat, saturated fats, sugar and sodium contents in a single food portion and compares the percentage of those contents with what is expected in a healthy daily nutritional intake.
Speaking at the International Food Exhibition in Parma, Italy’s minister of agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli, warned that “we have not yet won the battle against Nutri-Score”, adding that the result will be known in 2022 but that there is “more reason for optimism than 6-8 months ago”.
According to him, Nutri-Score is an “intelligent method of conditioning consumers”. Products that benefit the most from this system are “the most processed products of all, with a large packaging, always in plastic, which therefore have a higher energy consumption and a greater environmental impact”.
Italian Labelling System
Patuanelli stressed that part of the large-scale retail sector has started supporting Nutrinform, Spain has “radically changed its position”, while other countries are showing an increasing understanding for the Italian labelling system.
Also present at the event was the CEO of Conad, Italy’s largest supermarket chain, who also expressed his opposition to Nutri-Score.
One of the strong supporters of the government’s position is the Italian Food and Drink Industry (Federalimentare), which strongly opposes Nutri-Score and is not open to compromise.
Nutri-Score “aims to divide healthy foods from unhealthy ones” but the Italian diet “is based on the opposite concept, according to which there are no good and bad foods, but only balanced and unbalanced diets, so everything can be eaten in the right quantities", highlights Federalimentare president, Ivano Vacondio.
Producers of Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano cheese in Italy have also opposed the Nutri-Score nutritional labelling system, claiming that it 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.