Nutriscore, the European citizens’ initiative.


On 4/30/19, the European Commission announced the registration of four new European citizens’ initiatives. These include ‘Pro-Nutriscore‘ and ‘a rapid, equitable and effective solution to climate change‘. (1)

Nutrition information, the omissions of the European Commission

The ‘
Food Information Regulation
‘ had already entrusted the European Commission with the task of evaluating the summary nutrition information schemes adopted on a voluntary basis in the different member states. (2) Schemes such as ‘traffic-light‘ in England, the ‘healthy logo‘ in the Netherlands, the ‘keyhole system‘ in Scandinavian countries. And the French ‘NutriScore‘, also adopted in Spain in 2018 and in Belgium as of 1.4.19.

By 13.12.17, the European Commission was to submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council on its experience with the use of ‘additional forms of expression and presentation’ and their effect on the internal market. After collecting the information from member states, the Commission should have considered harmonizing such forms of summary nutrition declaration at the European level.

Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis However, it has failed in its obligations. In this case as in that of the

nutritional profiles.

The unhelpful commissioner had already distinguished himself, after all, by hisfailure to address the serious public health risks associated with process contaminants in palm oil

and various bluffs, from food fraud

to vegetarian and vegan foods

. (3)


, the European citizens’ initiative

The European Citizens’ Initiative calls on the European Commission to ‘impose simplified labeling’ Nutriscore on food labels, ‘to ensure quality nutritional information for European consumers and to protect their health. The objectives of the initiative are stated in the following terms:

– ‘Simplify the reading and understanding of nutrition labeling‘,

– ‘intervene on public health issues by encouraging professionals to improve the composition of their products [and] to harmonize nutritional information at the European level by mandating a single official label.’

Registration for this initiative will take place on 8.5.19. Over the next 12 months, organizers will need to collect 1 million signatures in at least 7 countries for the European Commission to consider adopting the proposed regulation. (4)

Nutriscore, the 5-color scheme

The ‘
‘ is a synthetic nutrition labeling system based on a logo with a nutrition score that is expressed with five different shades of colors (from green to dark orange) and five letters, from A to E. (5) It was adopted by the French government in 2016, as part of the health system modernization law, following the testing of four different nutrition information schemes. (6)

The goal of the NutriScore is to promote consumer choice of balanced foods. And thus contribute to the fight against obesity, overweight and related diseases. The 5 classes serve to help consumers understand at a glance the nutritional quality of products on the shelf. And to stimulate producers to reformulation Of foods.

Consumers thus have an opportunity to dwell on their health. At the product selection stage but also at the consumption stage-and consumption doses-following the purchase. In turn, production and distribution operators are incentivized to improve the nutritional quality of food to achieve a better visible score on the label.

The nutritional quality of food is calculated using an algorithm, developed by INRA (National Institute of Agronomic Research), which considers the following values:

– energy intake (Kcal / KJ)

– fats (g)

– saturated fatty acids (g)

– carbohydrates (g)

– sugars (g)

– protein (g)

– salt (sodium equivalent, mg)

– fibers (g).

The presence of fruits and vegetables is also considered favorably because of the amounts of vitamins and phytoactives. (7)

However, km0 products, that is, those marketed within 100 km of the place of production, are excluded from the application of the scheme. Products not subject to mandatory nutrition declaration are also excluded. (8)

Dario Dongo


(1) The other two initiatives registered on 4/30/19 pertain to the end of the tax exemption for aviation fuel in Europe and the cohesion policy for equality of regions and preservation of regional cultures. Instead, the commission rejected the initiative to ‘stop trade with Israeli settlements operating in the occupied Palestinian territories

(2) See reg. EU 1169/11, Article 35.5

(3) Vytenis Andriukaitis’ negative report card also records the paucity of measures taken on acrylamide

and bisphenol A

. As well as total indifference to the emerging risk of microplastics and nanoplastics Next!

(4) On the ‘

European Citizens’ Initiative

‘ see

(5) An initial difference between the English ‘traffic light’ system and the French system is the color assigned to the nutritionally poorer foods. Red in England, the faintest dark orange in France. Several behavioral studies show that orange, unlike red, is not a barrier to purchase

(6) V.

(7) Information on the INRA algorithm, at.

(8) Ex. tea and herbal teas, coffee, salt, vinegars, spices and herbs, etc. Cf. reg. EU 1169/11, Annex 5. See