The Nutri-Score food labelling system intends to categorise all alcoholic drinks under the lowest category, “F”, which has sparked anger from the wine industry in Italy and France.
The alphabetically coded score currently ranks the nutritional quality of food and drinks from A to E, and is a popular type of labelling which the EU Commission wants to implement across the EU bloc by the end of 2022.
In addition to the ‘F’ category, information on the amount of calories, sugar, and alcohol should also be visible on alcoholic drink labels in the future, according to Serge Hercberg, professor of nutrition at Sorbonne University in Paris, and creator of the Nutri-Score.
The labelling system proposal hasn’t been well received in France and Italy, two of the largest wine producers in the world.
Pietro Paganini, Founder and President of the European think tank, Competere – Policies for Sustainable Development said in a statement: “Over the years, science has highlighted the importance of wine within a balanced diet. It is included in the nutritional regime considered – scientifically – among the healthiest in the world, the Mediterranean Diet. Thus, this proposal reveals once again the extremely simplistic and anti-scientific character of the Nutriscore approach: it is a totally inadequate tool to grasp the importance of nutrition for our health and it is not suitable to be the unique labelling system in Europe.”
He also called the system, “an affront to science and to our wine sector.”
Other products that have been negatively impacted by the labelling system include cheeses, which have been assigned an “E” label, and olive oil, which received a “C” label.
This has led to France’s dairy council CNAOL calling for an exemption from the Nutri-Score label on protected Geographical Indication (GI) goods such as regional cheeses. They argued that the system confused consumers, as region-specific dairy products do not contain the same number of unhealthy additives as mass-produced packaged goods. The Spanish Government also want to exempt olive oil from the Nutri-Score, as it hasn’t taken the health benefits of the amounts of product usage into account.
Despite claims that Nutri-Score’s nutritional labels confuse consumers, a study published by the University of Liverpool last year revealed that labelling on alcoholic drinks could have a positive impact, and help reduce obesity levels in the UK. The report shows that 74% of people are not currently aware of the energy content in alcoholic drinks.