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NutriScore, the tools for calculating the nutritional profiles of food and beverages

Public Health France – the French Public Health Agency – has just published the spreadsheet for calculating the nutritional profiles of foods and beverages, based on the updated versions of the NutriScore algorithm.

A useful tool for all operators who really intend to express the social factor of their ESG strategies (Environmental, Social, Governance), working on nutritional safety and the transparency of consumer information.

1) NutriScore, the updated versions of the algorithm

Governments of the seven European countries participating in the of the Steering Committee Board of NutriScore (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland) have approved in recent months, as we have seen, the updated versions of the algorithm to be applied for calculating the nutritional profiles of:

- drinks. The best score (NutriScore A) is reserved for water. Fruit juices and other drinks vary between NutriScore B and E, in relation to their nutritional profiles (e.g. sugar and saturated fat contents), with penalties in case of use of synthetic sweeteners, (1)

– solid foods. Best scores for fish, fish products and other white meats (e.g. poultry), whole grains, extra virgin olive oil. Penalization of added sugars, in line with the warnings provided by EFSA on the risks associated with their intake (2,3).

2) NutriScore, the benefits for consumers

The first function of NutriScore is to help citizens make informed decisions about the purchase and consumption of food and drink, thanks to a clear signal on their labels. Five colors (from intense green to vermilion) corresponding to five letters (from A to E) help consumers to understand at a glance:

– the nutritional profiles of the various products on sale. So you can choose, for example, a less salty charcuterie product than others. Or a wholemeal biscuit with unsaturated fatty acids (e.g. sunflower oil) and less sugar, rather than others with refined flours (e.g. wheat flour type 00) and poor quality saturated fats (e.g. palm oil),

– the role of individual foods and beverages within a healthy and balanced diet. In compliance with the Mediterranean diet, which in fact is based on the food pyramid where certain foods can be consumed more frequently and in greater quantities, (4) without neglecting the products that belong to local cultural and gastronomic traditions. (5)

3) Public health needs

The scientific community international – based on more than one hundred independent studies published in peer-review, also in Italy (6,7) – indicates the NutriScore as the FOPNL system (Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling) more effective, among the various ones tested in the Old Continent, in helping citizens to improve their diet.

Obesity and overweight they are endemic, as established by WHO Europe, starting from childhood and adolescence. (8) Their effects significantly affect public health and quality of life. It is therefore indispensable and urgent to adopt adequate nutritional policies to mitigate the current crisis, also - and not only - through the NutriScore. (9)

4) Benefits for food operators and the retail

Yuka – the app that offers information on the nutritional profiles of foods, based on NutriScore, as well as news on the organic nature of products and the additives used in foods and cosmetics – is used by around 40 million users, over three million in Italy. (10) Information on over 2,5 million shelf products is available, thanks to Yuka, simply by scanning their barcodes. That is, regardless of the still voluntary application of the NutriScore on the label.

The operators most attentive of the food industry and the retail they well understood that with Yuka and OpenFoodFacts, another app that uses the NutriScore, it is no longer possible to hide the nutritional profiles of foods and beverages. This circumstance has prompted many operators and retailer to reformulate the products under their own brand, with the double advantage of favoring their choice by consumers who are increasingly attentive to nutritional profiles and to promote their own social responsibility (11,12). Thus realizing both commercial and business benefits brand identity.

5) NutriScore, the tools for calculating nutritional profiles

The nutritional profiles of food and beverages can be easily calculated – based on the updated versions of the NutriScore algorithm – using the spreadsheet published by Santé Publique France on the page websites  https://www.santepubliquefrance.fr/content/download/546762/file/Nutri-Score_calculation_tool_for_the_updated_algorithm2023.xlsx.

General information and FAQs (frequently asked questions) are available in the languages English e French.

6) Some examples

The Scientific Committee of #NutriScore provides some examples, which follow, for calculating the nutritional profiles of foods and beverages.

NutriScore food comparison

NutriScore food comparison

NutriScore food comparison

# SDG3, improve health and well-being

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. NutriScore, evolution of the algorithm on a scientific basis. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(2) Dario Dongo. NutriScore, Algorithm Update for Beverages. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(3) Marta Strinati. The harmful role of sugars in the diet, EFSA opinion. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(4) Dario Dongo. NutriScore, we help consumers choose balanced foods! Petition. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(5) Dario Dongo. NutriScore, full marks to local products. And the quality of food improves. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(6) Marta Strinati, Dario Dongo. NutriScore, a report by 320 scientists to urge the European Commission. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(7) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Italian scientific study confirms the effectiveness of NutriScore. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(8) Sabrina Bergamini, Dario Dongo. Obesity, childhood obesity and marketing. WHO Europe 2022 report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(9) Alessandra Mei, Dario Dongo. Public health, non-communicable diseases and prevention. EUPHA compared with WHO. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(10) Source Similarweb, https://tinyurl.com/46dyrdyp. Last accessed 16.7.23

(11) Marta Strinati. The impact of the Yuka app on food consumption in Italy. The report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(12) Marta Strinati. Yuka stimulates food reformulation and works on the eco-score. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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