Laws & Labels

Traffic light labels come to France

Already present in the UK, colour labelling could soon be introduced in France. French government has just sent a decree to the EU on this matter. Italian best known food products – starting with dairies – could be at risk, according to Assolatte.

A new turn of events is involving traffic light labels – also known as colour labelling – in Europe. Already present in the UK, they could be soon introduced in France. French Ministries of Agricultural Politics, Social Affairs, Health, Economy and Finance have just officially notified a decree on this matter to the European Commission. It’s a decree introducing the Nutri-score nutritional labelling system and the relating specification. Assolatte – the Italian Dairy Companies Association – states that the traffic light labels system could create setbacks for Italian food, not to mention damages for Made in Italy export as France is one of the most important markets for Italian excellent food products and the main export market for our dairies.

The labelling system

The colour labelling system is based on the evaluation of the total nutritional value of every kind of food. The value shall be calculated weighing four negative factors (energy density, saturated fat content, simple sugars content, sodium level) and three positive characteristics (fiber level, protein content, fruit, vegetables or nut content in terms of vitamins). According to the ratio of these variables, every food product will get a score which corresponds to one of the five colours of the considered colour scale: deep green, light green, light orange, medium orange and deep orange. The correspondent colour, together with a related alphabetical character, will be highlighted on the label within the Nutri-score dot. The effects of a “negative” colour could therefore be potentially devastating, also because one out of two French consumers knows what the Nutri-score dot is about and 84 consumers out of  100 claim to be inclined to use this system to decide what to put in their shopping cart states Assolatte referring to a survey conducted some days ago by French research company Odoxa. Following Assolatte’s simulations, Italian dairy products most beloved by French consumers shall all get a C or D colour scale (light and medium orange).

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