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Press release of Federalimentare on Nutrition Labeling Systems

Federalimentare: Nutriscore is misleading, it penalizes the “Made in Italy”.

Vacondio: “The labeling systems that claim to classify foods lead to less healthy choices and do not respect the Mediterranean diet”

Federalimentare once again reiterates its opposition to any food labeling system that discriminates against certain foods over others through colors, warning signs or any form of classification.

These systems, which are the English “traffic lights”, the French “Nutriscore”, or the black octagons adopted by Chile and Peru, do not induce the consumer to make healthier choices, because they focus on single foods and not on the diet as a whole. Indeed, the most authoritative scientists and nutritionists agree that a good diet is a varied and balanced one, with an appropriate intake of all nutrients. Color labeling systems, on the other hand, tend to discourage the consumer from buying all the products rich in salt, saturated fats or sugars, marking them as harmful to health. Among these products all the most typical foods of the Italian tradition and of the Mediterranean diet, notwithstanding their indisputable quality.

A striking example is the extra virgin olive oil, penalized for its content of fats without taking into accounts its many beneficial properties, such as the antioxidant action or the capacity to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Despite these properties, EVO oil in the United Kingdom is marked with a red light, in Chile with a sign of danger to health and in France receives from the “Nutriscore” a lower judgment than that assigned to rapeseed oil.

“All main health indicators classify Italy among the healthiest countries in the world, starting from longevity – said Ivano Vacondio, president of Federalimentare – One of the main reasons for this is the nutrition model based on the Mediterranean diet, whose healthiness is certified by 50 years of studies. On the contrary, an algorithm like the one based on the Nutriscore, doesn’t have scientific bases solid enough to suggest drastic changes in the eating habits”- the president concluded.

Federalimentare therefore is in favor of a labeling system able to provide the consumer with all the information needed to make an informed choice, without aiming at influencing it by suggesting that a product, or a category of products, is to be preferred over others.

Federalimentare therefore remains contrary to all labeling systems that classified foods into healthy and unhealthy thus trying to influence consumer choices, because apart from distorting free market and competition and penalizing all the main excellences of “Made in Italy”, they do not improve the health of citizens at all.