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Nutriscore lands in Italy, and Antitrust initiates 5 investigations

On the use of the system by GS, Carrefour Italy, Pescanova Italy, Valsoia and foreign companies

According to the Authority, the consumer could be induced to attribute health properties to products with a positive judgment according to NutriScore or Yuka and therefore to trust the labeling system and the app to make food choices.

The Competition and Market Authority (Agcm, the Italian Antitrust) informs today that it has initiated five investigations on the use of the front parcel labeling system called NutriScore by the Italian companies GS Spa, Carrefour Italia Spa, Pescanova Italia Srl and Valsoia SpA, of the French companies Regime Dukan Sas and Diet Lab Sas, of the English company Weetabix Ltd. and of a German company active in the production of sweets. The Authority also initiated an investigation against the app owner   French Yuka, downloadable from the Google and Apple App Stores, which aims to give a healthy evaluation of food products based largely on the NutriScore system, and which provides alternative proposals for products judged to be mediocre or scarce.

In the NutriScore labeling system - explains the Antitrust Authority - food products are divided into five categories, based on a score calculated using a complex algorithm that subtracts from the total value of the "unfavorable" elements (energy, saturated fatty acids, simple sugars, sodium) that of the "favorable" elements (percentage of fruit, vegetables, legumes and oilseeds, fibers, proteins). Foods with very low scores and, therefore, with a preponderance of favorable elements, are assigned to category A (green), while those with the highest scores are assigned to category E (red).

The fear, the Authority highlights, is that the NutriScore label, as well as the scores and judgments provided by the app, in the absence of adequate warnings, are erroneously perceived as absolute assessments on the healthiness of a particular product, which disregard the overall needs of an individual (diet and lifestyle), the quantity and frequency of intake within a varied and balanced diet. It follows that the consumer could be induced to attribute health properties to products with a positive judgment according to the NutriScore label or the Yuka app rating and, therefore, to exalt without reason the health results that derive from their choice.

Finally, in the case of the Yuka app, according to Agcm it is not clear the criterion on the basis of which the alternatives to the consumer are ordered and proposed.

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EFA News - European Food Agency