EFSA scientific advice rejects Nutriscore: a win for Italian food

The European Food Safety Authority highlighted the importance of the diet as a whole, instead of single foods consumption, as the most important factor in good health. “This is a victory of Italy’s Nutrinform battery label and a defeat for the Nutriscore algorithm,” say the Italian food industries
EFSA scientific advice rejects Nutriscore: a win for Italian food

The latest EFSA scientific advice on nutrient profiling confirms the correctness of the Italian position on food labeling, and rejects the Nutriscore algorithm,” says an official statement from Federalimentare, the association of Italian food industries. According to the European Food Safety Authority, the nutrient profiles of the whole diet, and not that of individual foods, are the most important factor in good health. “As diets are composed of many different foods, the overall balance is achieved by the contribution of foods with different nutritional profiles,” EFSA wrote.

The European Authority did never endorse the use of “traffic light” food labels. As for portions, it referred back to the advice published in 2008 in which, evaluating the pros and cons of the two approaches, it pointed out that the use of a fixed parameter such as 100 grams portion (the one adopted by Nutriscore) was unrelated to real consumption.

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The EFSA also confirmed the validity of the European Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) on which the Nutrinform Battery label parameters are based. “We are happy that our approach, based on clear and transparent information to the consumer, is gaining acceptance. The Nutrinform Battery proposed by the Italian government is not based on some mysterious algorithms, but on information about the nutrient content of foods and their contribution to the overall daily diet, based on the portions suggested by nutritionists. To comply with EFSA’s conclusions, the Nutriscore algorithm should be completely revolutionized,” says Federalimentare.

A comparison between Nutrinform Battery and Nutriscore

Now it would be the case to overcome the nutritional profiles of foods calculated per 100 grams portions as designed so far (of which the same Authority had noted at the time the inherent scientific limits) and look for more effective and modern tools to regulate advertising claims, food labeling, and nutrition policies. Thanks to a more solid scientific basis and the adoption of the concept of overall daily diet and portion, these tools should have the ability to promote consumer nutrition education, and the adoption of healthier diets,” Federalimentare concludes.

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