Founded by the French Public Health Authority in 2017, Nutri-Score is a voluntary nutritional rating system and has been a hot topic of discussion in Germany since 2020.
Nutritional components such as calories, protein, fat and fibre together with the fruit and vegetable content of a given food are rated in a similar way to the classic nutritional information on the back of a packet. The Nutri-Score is based on either 100g or 100ml of the product. The traffic light scale from A to E, from green to red, is clearly displayed on the front of the packet so that the consumer can easily compare the product to others available on the supermarket shelves.
Most importantly processed foods can voluntarily display the nutritional colour chart on their packaging. In principle this only applies to products which also have a nutritional information chart.
It is important to note that these product markings are only a guide: the size of the portion, the eating habits of each individual and their activity levels also have an important role to play.
There are three separate stages used to calculate a Nutri-Score.
- Stage 1: checks the calories, sugar, saturated fats and salt per 100g or 100ml. For each criterion there are points ranging from 0 to 10. The higher the score, the worse the product rating.
- Stage 2: determines the over-all score by adding the four highest scores from stage 1 together and forming a sub-total. Contrastingly, the three most positive properties of the product are considered, such as fibre, protein and the fruit, vegetable and/or nut content. For these positive elements, the food is awarded a score between 0 and 5 which is then subtracted from the subtotal. The protein content is only included when the fruit, vegetable and nut content exceed 80% of the product.
- Stage 3: arranges the Nutri-Score from A, dark green, through to E, red.
The traffic light system’s colours combined with the letter rating facilitates a speedy assessment of the product.
According to a French study, since the introduction of the Nutri-score system, shoppers have been consciously choosing healthier options.
Critics, however, have complained that vitamins and nutrients have not been included positively as part of the point scoring, and equally that sweeteners and additives are not classified as negatives.