It took a while. But at some point, a few weeks ago, I first saw these colored letters on individual products in the supermarket. Traffic signal extended with five levels: from A to E. From dark green to yellow to deep red.
These are the first visual tags for Nutri-Score, which have been introduced since the end of last year. Consumers should be able to see the nutritional value of a product at a glance on a colorimeter. It’s kind of a brief summary – and evaluation – of the more detailed information on the back. It’s hard to believe, but the calorie, fat and sugar content has only been mandatory since the end of 2016, thanks to the European Union. And now Nutri-Score, which is a simple counting system that evaluates the good and the bad properties of a food.
The system was introduced in France in 2017 and has now been adopted by Germany. Until a unified European solution is found, the companies will present it on a voluntary basis. This is why the products marked on the shelf are as rare as the football tournament that does not go to Bayern Munich. But it’s there: Here’s a box of muesli, there’s a frozen product, and here’s yogurt, and a box of biscuits. The rating scale is self-evident: A and green are good. E and red are bad.
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But I notice some anomalies. Salty and fatty peanut flips get you an orange D: So far, that’s understandable. But why do sugary fruit dwarfs with the letter B whole note better than natural cashews? Or as a vegan organic ingredient with beetroot and radish (which, incidentally, didn’t print Nutri-Score a couple of weeks ago)? Personally, I consider natural cashews to be a more valuable food than sweetened baby yogurt. Did I not understand the system correctly? Or is Nutri-Score at the end of the day essentially a marketing medium for big companies that really make no sense?
»Of the various nutritional labeling systems out there in Europe, in our opinion, Nutri-Score is the best of all. We also hope that the system will be introduced in a binding way across Europe, ”says Caroline Krieger, food policy advisor at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. The Nutri-Score was not a common method, but was developed in France by independent scientists.” The rating scale helps compare Foods in the product category work together – for example, different types of pizza or frozen yogurt, ”says Krieger.
Or the three different chicken dishes from the same company that are on the freezer shelf in the supermarket. Here the product, which contains melted cheese over the small pieces, is given a score of (D) much lower than the other two types (B) due to its higher fat content. If you want to make sure that you are not consuming too many calories, you will get quick decision making help. Nutri-Score also reveals that the nutritional value of the lower-calorie fruit dwarf is really no better than the regular variant (both B) and that it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at the grains. Kellogg’s “Cinnanmon Stars Zimmy’s” still managed to achieve a Grade B despite the high amounts of sugar, while the “Frosties” of the same brand only ran D due to the significantly higher sugar and salt content.