SAFE launched the ‘Towards better FOPNL for consumers’ Campaign to raise awareness on the current lack of effectiveness of the European most used front-of-pack nutrition labelling.
While the European Commission is currently considering several types of front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) to create a harmonised labelling system among all Member States, the Nutri-Score is among the options considered.
However, the Nutri-Score label presents different issues that would poses major concern for public health if it were to be chosen at the EU harmonised FOPNL system. SAFE is therefore advocating to promote the adoption of a better system to protect European consumers.
About the campaign
The situation of non-communicable diseases in Europe
Unhealthy diet and malnutrition are major drivers of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. According to the WHO, in Europe, 90% of deaths were caused by NCDs in 2021.
European consumers’ diets are not in line with the dietary recommendations set by the World Health Organisation. Europeans are consuming more and more healthy food high in sugars, fats, salt (HFSS foods) while the consumption of vegetables, fruits, and fibres is decreasing. According to a 2022 WHO report, overweight and obesity currently affect around 60% of adults in Europe. In the European region, obesity is the fourth most common risk factor for NCDs.
Nutri-Score inefficiency and legal incompatibilities
The European Commission aims to revise the Regulation on Food Information to Consumers, to promote a new harmonised European system for of front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL). This revision pursues the objective of reinforcing consumer protection and intends to encourage healthier and more sustainable diets.
The Nutri-Score labelling could be selected as the harmonised FOPNL for the European Union, but this would pose serious issues regarding consumers capacity to make informed choices.
Indeed, SAFE conducted a report that analysed the shortcomings of the Nutri-Score algorithm and the misleading information it gives to European consumers. This report also compared the Nutri-Score system with other existing labels. Based on the scientific evidence provided in its report, SAFE showed that the Nutri-Score tool is ineffective in distinguishing healthy from unhealthy products as it is based on incomplete and overly simplistic criteria. By relying on the Nutri-Score, consumers are therefore not adequately informed about their choices. Furthermore, SAFE’s report also analysed the legal inconsistencies of the Nutri-Score.
The Nutri-Score does not meet some mandatory and fundamental requirements set out in several articles of the Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, that aims to identify the correct information for consumers. Adopting the Nutri-Score as the next harmonised front-of-pack labelling would go against the basic principles of this Regulation, based on consumers protection and healthier diets.
For more information, check out our report:
Read our communications on the ‘Towards better FOPNL for consumers’ Campaign here:
Luigi Tozzi, firstname.lastname@example.org