In search of consensus. The European Union wants to find a harmonised solution for labelling food, after having discarded the Nutri-Score. With its green to red pellets with the letters A to E to assess the content of "good" nutrients (protein, fibre) and "bad" (sugar, salt, fatty acids), the French Nutri-Score was initially a favourite to be extended to all Member States.
It has already been adopted by six EU Member States: France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain. This was without counting the virulent opposition of Italy, which managed to rally Cyprus, Greece, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. "An intense lobbying campaign against this tool for the benefit of commercial interests has unfortunately muddied the waters," said Emma Calvert of the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC), while obesity in Europe now affects one in four adults, according to the WHO.
Brussels is currently examining the various existing displays: the Nutri-Score, the outlines of which can always ultimately serve as inspiration, the green or black logos of the Nordic countries (less restrictive) but also the system defended by Italy, the Nutrinform Battery, which takes into account the portions potentially consumed.
"Discriminatory and penalizing" measures according to Giorgia Meloni
As early as her electoral campaign, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had put her foot in the dish, denouncing measures that were "discriminatory and penalising our agri-food system". The powerful Italian industry and its giants like Ferrero would be affected and Rome also fears a devaluation of the flagship products of its gastronomy and the Mediterranean diet (olive oil, honey, cheeses such as Parmesan, Parma ham, pizzas ...).
The idea would be to account for portions. For now, the French Nutri-Score effectively evaluates foods according to the same reference of 100 grams or 100 milliliters in order to promote comparisons, without taking into account the fact that some, such as olive oil or cheese, are consumed in small quantities.
In the meantime, time is running out: the Commission's proposal must be debated by the states and then submitted to MEPs whose mandate expires in 2024. If the Commission misses the boat, "it will be a major missed opportunity to help European consumers, especially the most vulnerable," Calvert said.