A group of 320 scientists and health professionals have released a comprehensive scientific report explaining “Why the European Commission must choose the Nutri-Score nutrition label – a public health tool based on rigorous scientific evidence – as the harmonised mandatory nutrition label for Europe”.
The European Commission has committed, as part of its “From Farm to Fork” strategy, to propose a mandatory EU-wide harmonised front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme applicable throughout the EU by 2023. However, strong lobbying groups are heavily mobilised to prevent the EU-wide introduction of the Nutri-Score, or delay its adoption, or choose a useless alternative.
Despite strong and conclusive scientific and societal arguments in favour of the Nutri-Score, recent statements of some Commission officials hinted that the Commission might not retain Nutri-Score because it would be too polarising.
This opposition stems from the joint pressure of large food companies opposed to Nutri-Score, including Ferrero, Lactalis, Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, Kraft, of certain agricultural sectors, not least the cheese and processed meat sectors and their powerful European representation COPA-COGECA.
They are joined by various political parties and politicians close to the lobbies, and the lobbying actions of the Italian government (accelerated since the last Italian elections). Their widespread lobbying and their public use of even the most absurd and dishonest arguments as well as fake news seems to have led the European Commission to pause its efforts to regulate front-of-pack nutrition labelling.
There is no scientific or public health argument for this position, but a spurious argument instead: Nutri-Score would not be acceptable because it would be opposed by some economic and political lobbying groups.
The commission has invoked a "complex" situation, whilst we know that its hesitation stems from Italy’s violent opposition, which defends the commercial interests of some of its agri-food industry sectors. They have proposed their own non-interpretive label, Nutrinform, which is very similar to the industrial GDA/RI model launched in the 2000s, whose inefficiency to guide consumer choices has been well established by numerous studies.
The Commission is holding a worrying discourse, ignoring current scientific evidence regarding front-of-pack nutrition labels in the EU context and the clear advantages in having one harmonised front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme throughout the European Union that works for consumers.
Considering the risk of postponing the adoption of a mandatory front-of-pack nutrition label at European Union level or the adoption of a nutrition label not based on scientific evidence, 320 scientists and health professionals working in the fields of nutrition, obesity, public health, preventive medicine, endocrinology, oncology, cardiology, paediatrics, psychology, European law and social marketing, gathered in the “Group of European scientists and health professionals supporting Nutri-Score”, have mobilised to make their voices better heard in the current debate.
To this effect, they are publishing a scientific report of 61 pages with 105 references: “Why the European Commission must choose the Nutri-Score nutrition label – a public health tool based on rigorous scientific evidence – as the harmonised mandatory nutrition label for Europe” highlighting very strong arguments in favour of choosing the Nutri-Score.