Some Southern European products should be left out of plans by the European Commission to introduce a mandatory food labelling system, an MEP has told Euronews.
Brussels intends to propose the Nutri-Score - a rating system that goes from 'A' for the healthiest of foods, to 'E' for the least healthy - at some point next year, as part of its Farm to Fork Strategy, in order to help consumers make healthier choices when eating.
But Spanish MEP Adrián Vázquez Lázara has questioned how it’s calculated, as many Mediterranean products, like olive oil, receive the same score as products like Coke Zero, for example.
"Our fight at the [European] Parliament is to try to leave out of the Nutri-Score labelling the mono [fat] ingredients like olive oil, like honey, like ham... those products from protected destinations of origin, and also protected geographical locations, that have already been accepted by society and by governments as top-notch products that represent the image of many member states," Vázquez Lázara told Euronews.
Nutri-Score was originally created in France and is currently only recommended for use in five other member states: Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands and Spain.
It doesn't apply to every food product, but the Commission proposal intended for 2022, could mean that it becomes mandatory across the whole European Union.
Professor Serge Hercberg, one of the inventors of the Nutri-Score, told Euronews that the system benefits consumers and that it takes into account everything - good and bad.
"The Nutri-Score takes into consideration favourable and unfavourable elements, making a nutritional balance. On one hand, the bad elements are salt, calories, saturated fats and sugar. On the other hand, the good ingredients are fruit, vegetables, fibres, proteins and traces of olive, rapeseed or nut oils. And it is from this final result of all these positive and negative elements that we have an overall score that informs the consumer, very simply, about the nutritional quality of the food," Hercberg said.
Apart from allowing consumers to make healthier choices, the aim of the Nutri-Score is to cut the rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, illnesses often associated with poor diets.