Food safety from the origin to the destination of foods and to their point of consumption has become a very important matter, and the development of food additives like Natamycin (E 235) ensures their consumption time and prevents them from spoiling prematurely. However, food safety can also be viewed from the standpoint of clear, precise information for consumers about the nutritional value of the food they are going to pay for, and their right to choose certain foods over others with the assurance that they use the same system to determine their nutritional content.
The implementation of the new Nutri-Score labelling system for foods in the European Union is now underway to help millions of consumers take decisions, and this is leading to adaptations by companies that manufacture, package and label foods.
How is the classification calculated based on the new Nutri-Score labelling system?
The category of a food according to the Nutri-Score system is determined bearing in mind the result of calculating an algorithm.
In this algorithm, components regarded as nutritionally “unfavourable” (e.g., calories, sugars, saturated fatty acids and sodium) and “favourable” (proteins, fibre, percentage of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts) are taken into account, and a score is assigned in relation to the content of each of them, which is contained in two different tables.
These two tables are used as the criterion for crossing favourable and unfavourable data, such that the foods with a higher proportion of unfavourable components will be classified in the colours closer to red on the “traffic light” and with the last three letters (C, D and E), while the opposite holds true for the more nutritionally balanced foods.
The table below shows how the points earned by applying the algorithm are associated with the colour and letter on the Nutri-Score “traffic light”. On the left is the column assigning the logos for solid foods, and the central column is for beverages. The different logo images are show in the column on the right.
The presence or amount of additives in a food, like Natamycin (E 235), is not used in this calculation.
The content of additives is part of the information that is traditionally included on food labels and is not affected by the Nutri-Score “traffic light” given that the new information occupies a prime location on the front of the packaging.
This new model is being implemented by some countries, with France at the helm, while others like Spain are still waiting to implement it in the future. However, the larger companies operating in the majority of European countries have already placed the new Nutri-Score “traffic light” on some of their products marketed all over Europe.
There are also types of packaging and foods which are not affected by the new Nutri-Score system.
Finally, there are food groups whose method of calculation has changed in order to be included in the new system.