The Italian government has launched a smartphone app based on its NutrInform Battery, which aims to help users follow the principles of a healthy Mediterranean Diet.
The app is a collaboration between Italy’s Ministries of Health, Economic Development and Agriculture, Food and Forestry, as well as the Italian National Institute of Health and the National Research Council of Italy.
There are two tools within the app – a label reader and a diet tracker. The former allows users to photograph NutrInform food label barcodes to discover detailed nutritional information and nutritionist-approved portion sizes.
Named the Daily Diet Battery, the latter is a way for users to record their dietary intake throughout the day. It is broken down into various metrics like salt, sugars, fats and calories and as certain ‘batteries’ fill up, users can modify their diet accordingly so as not to exceed recommended daily limits.
Also included on the platform are a collection of more than 300 recipes which will allow users to estimate the nutritional information of common Italian dishes, without inputting every ingredient.
The launch of the app comes just days after a ruling by the Italian Competition Authority, which forbids the Nutri-Score – the rival scoring system developed in France – from being used in the country without being accompanied by warnings.
Italy has long had a problem with the Nutri-Score grading system, which it says unfairly penalises many of the single-ingredient foods for which the country is known and loved. These include certain cheeses, Parma ham and olive oil.
While the Nutri-Score system bases its calculations on 100g portions of foods (or 100ml), the NutrInform Battery takes into account daily intake. This, its developers claim, is a better reflection of how people actually eat.
The European Commission is expected to announce which EU-wide nutritional labelling system it plans to roll out across the bloc within the next few months.
While the Nutri-Score remains the favourite of the Commission, the Italian Competition Authority said in its ruling that for now, “those who want to use the Nutri-Score therefore must specify that the traffic light system is developed on the basis of an algorithm and on scientific evaluations not universally recognized and shared.”
As the European Comission’s decision looms, those behind the Nutri-Score have pledged to address concerns.
According to the Scientific Committee of the Nutri-Score – a group comprised of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland – algorithm changes will soon be adopted across the scheme. These alterations will more favourably classify several foodstuffs which have been a concern for Italy, including dairy and plant-based oils.