Europe’s olive oil industry is railing against the ‘unfair’ Nutri-Score algorithm and has launched the first international awards to assess the health benefits and flavour of olive oils in the hope the food labelling scheme will review its assessment criteria.
Nutri-Score classifies food and beverages according to their nutritional profile using a scale of five colours and letters (A is green to represent the best nutritional quality while E is dark orange to show it’s the lowest). The front-of-pack nutritional rating label has been officially recommended by health authorities in France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain and is the current favourite to become the EU’s mandatory FOP nutrition label of choice.
Nutri-Score is calculated via an algorithm developed by a team of independent researchers, which takes into account both the nutrients to limit (ie. calories, saturated fat, sugars and salt) and those elements to favour (such as fibre, proteins, nuts, fruit and vegetables) and thus allow consumers to choose the healthy option.
Under the system, olive oil receives a yellow C rating. This, according to members of the olive oil industry, does not take the health benefits of olive oils into due account and ultimately penalises the product.
Therefore, the Center for Advanced Studies in Olives and Olive Oils, based at the University of Jaén in Andalucía, Spain, in collaboration with olive oil producer Deoleo, extract supplier Genosa, packaging firm Tetra Pak and engineering company Alfa Laval, will host the first international Health and Flavor Awards. According to a statement from the organisers, the awards will value for the first time those oils that demonstrate both the ‘best organoleptic qualities and the minimum level of phenolic compounds required by European regulation EC 1924/2006’.