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The new nutri-score labelling system applied to cheeses and dairy products

labelling is constantly evolving due to the need to ensure that consumers receive the best information about food.

The European Union legislation that covers information on this labelling is applicable in all the member countries.

The need to provide nutritional information about some foods in the most graphic and user-friendly way had led to the promotion of Front-of-Pack Labelling (FOPL).

The most widely used front-of-pack labelling format is known as Nutri-Score. It was first developed in France, using an English model as a benchmark, and its main asset is its simplicity.

This labelling standard does not cover the packaging of food additives such as Natamycin. The additives that food contains are not taken into account when calculating the extent to which the food is nutritious, since the role of additives in the composition of food is to ensure its safety when it is consumed.

However, the system does cover foods that contain Natamycin as an additive, such as dairy products and cheeses. Knowing more about this new Nutri-Score labelling system that affects many food producers and packagers may therefore be useful.

This system, also known as the “traffic light,” classifies foods into five colours ranging from green (the most healthy) to red (the least healthy). The Nutri-Score symbol is located on the front of the packaging so that the consumer can see at a glance whether a product is more healthy or less.

The diagram below provides an overview of how the positive and negative components are considered from the nutritional point of view of food composition when calculating the algorithm.


Source: Nutri-Score frequently asked questions. Updated May 2020.

Adaptation of Nutri-Score Information for cheeses and dairy products

The calculation of the nutritional value classification according to the Nutri-Score method as shown in the diagram above does not apply to cheeses and other types of food.

The specific nature of the nutritional composition of these foods,  which are rich in milk protein and Calcium (positive points) but also in fats (negative points), has led to a change in the criteria used for their classification. Calcium content was not initially included as a criterion, and the presence of protein and Calcium has been prioritised over fat and salt.

Cheeses, processed cheeses and cheese specialities are subject to Nutri-Score labelling, but quark and vegetable spreads are not considered cheese.

In short, this classification does not aim to compare food categories (e.g. a cereal bar versus yoghurt) to rate them with high or low values, but instead to provide consumers with new guidelines about the nutritional composition of the packaged product when choosing a brand, based on simply looking at the front labelling (when comparing different brands of sliced cheese, for example).