In Europe, nutritional labeling systems linked to the principle of ‘traffic light’ communication are spreading. They make use of a chromatic scale ranging from green to red associated with an alphabetical scale (from letter A to letter E). To each food, through an algorithm which takes into account calories, quantity of fats and sugars, are then attributed a color and a letter parameterized to a standard quantity of product (e.g. 100 grams).
The tools based on these classification principles are “misleading and deceptive for consumers” – according to the two Consortia. In fact, “the real consumption of products is tied to ‘absolute arbitrary quantities’ that do not correspond to the quantity placed at the base of the algorithm.”
Moreover, “those systems do not take into account the balance between the different foods in a diet, nor the overall organoleptic characteristics of the product itself.” Cheeses are especially penalized due to the presence of fats, regardless of the fact that they provide many strategic nutrients: calcium, functional fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, essential amino acids. All valuable elements for a healthy and balanced diet.
HOW NUTRISCORE WORKS
According to Nutriscore, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Grana Padano PDO would be classified as ‘orange’. But a pasta dish with 80 grams of pasta, 20 grams of extra virgin olive oil and 20 grams of PDO hard cheese would – as a whole – be ‘green’. That is why labeling tools based on the traffic light principle “are to be considered a devaluing practice of PDO products, as they discourage the consumption of products without a real nutritional reason. The goal should instead be to teach conscious consumption of the correct quantities and to take into account the overall organoleptic characteristics of the product” – the Consortia stress.
THE DECISION OF THE CONSORTIA
Therefore, in all cases in which a player in the supply chain is asked, on a buyer’s voluntary basis, to modify the labeling of PDO products by inserting the traffic light label or equivalent systems that do not take into account the actual quantities of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO or Grana Padano PDO consumed nor provide any indication of the correct quantities in the context of a healthy and balanced diet, the Consortia can only reject the request for authorization of the label.
“We have taken action, together with friends of Grana Padano PDO production chain, against a labeling system that makes no sense and devalues the image of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, which has always been considered by nutritionists as a healthy and natural product” – said Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium.
“For years now, nutritional qualities have made Grana Padano PDO and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO the protected designation of origin products most loved by consumers and most imitated by unfair competitors” – explained Renato Zaghini, president of the Consortium for the protection of Grana Padano PDO. “Nutriscore denies the most consolidated and updated indications shared by nutritionists around the world, which make the balance between quantity and quality of foods the strong point of a proper diet at all ages.”