March 3, 2020

Marco Marangoni, Mérieux NutriSciences Italy


Italy doubting the method for rating olive oil poorly

Nutriscore is the graphic classification system for food products conceived by a French university and already adopted by several European countries in the last years.
The system consists of an indication on the product label -such as a “traffic light"-, namely a series of letters from A to E matching grading colors from green to red.
The purpose is to give consumers an immediate visual indication of the product's nutritional qualities.

So far, it seems an excellent idea, but not to everyone: many Italian industries think it jeopardizes many "Made in Italy" typical products, as parmesan cheese, “Prosciutto di Parma” and olive oil.

The crux of the question is the low score that Nutriscore assigns to extra virgin olive oil due to its fat content; however, despite the algorithm was modified to favor vegetal oils (olive, rapeseed, and hazelnut), olive oil does not get a higher score than "C".


Such algorithm takes into account the nutritional values ​​of the product and draws a balance from its calories, saturated fats, sugar and sodium since the affect it negatively; on the contrary, fiber, proteins, fruit and vegetables give a positive contribution. It must be said that the score assigned to a product relates to the food category which it belongs to, therefore an energy drink cannot be compared to a pack of pasta.

Nonetheless, the blame is to graphically place all foods at the same level and therefore mislead consumers. Moreover, experts think that such calculation is based on the nutritional values ​​of 100 grams of product which often do not reflect the real quantity consumed: for example, 100 grams of pizza get a "B" with a green background, thus telling the consumer that he can eat in quantity.


The adoption of the method currently occurs on a voluntary basis: countries such as France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany are already using it while in Italy the controversy is still ongoing and seems to lead to other alternative methods.

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