European Commission to Hear Olive Oil Sector’s Concerns About Nutri-Score


European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides is set to meet with mem­bers of the European olive oil sec­tor to dis­cuss their oppo­si­tion to Nutri-Score in the next few weeks.

Representatives from the gov­ern­ing body of the European Union have already dis­cussed the mat­ter with the International Olive Council (IOC) ahead of the pos­si­ble European-wide adop­tion of the French-born front-of-pack-label­ing (FOPL) sys­tem.

Olive oils must be pro­moted, and every­thing pos­si­ble must be done to avoid con­fu­sion and penal­iz­ing this prod­uct as is the case with the cur­rent Nutri-Score sys­tem.– Abdellatif Ghedira, exec­u­tive direc­tor, IOC

QV Extra!, the Spain-based inter­na­tional olive oil pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tion, has just announced that it is meet­ing in Madrid with the IOC on May 20 to dis­cuss the nutri­tional label­ing and health pro­file of the European Union’s extra vir­gin olive oil. Kyriakides, the European com­mis­sioner for health and food safety, is also expected to attend.

Kyriakides’ office is directly involved in the European Commission’s ongo­ing work regard­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of a har­mo­nized food label­ing scheme.

See Also:European Parliament Recommends Adoption of Europe-Wide Food Labels

In recent weeks the Kyriakides had assured the IOC that the olive oil sec­tor’s crit­i­cism of Nutri-Score and sim­i­lar food labels were con­sid­ered.

At the time, top IOC offi­cials said the orga­ni­za­tion is ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing extra vir­gin olive oil cul­ture and con­sump­tion based on a plethora of sci­en­tific research regard­ing its healthy prop­er­ties.

The IOC also empha­sized the role of the European Union in these efforts, as seven E.U. coun­tries are respon­si­ble for about 65 per­cent of global pro­duc­tion.

Nutri-Score, a traf­fic light style FOPL with five let­ter-color grades rang­ing from the health­i­est Green A” to the least healthy Red E,” is con­sid­ered the front-run­ner to become a Europe-wide food health label. The European Commission is set to make its final deci­sion by the end of the year.

The cur­rent debate comes on the heels of strong oppo­si­tion to Nutri-Score from olive oil pro­duc­ers in Europe in the last two years. Many dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions have repeat­edly crit­i­cized the fact that Nutri-Score assigns a Yellow C” to all grades of olive oil.

Olive oil pro­duc­ers are espe­cially crit­i­cal of the fact that the rat­ing sys­tem does not take olive oil’s polyphe­nol con­tent into account, just its fat com­po­si­tion.

On the con­trary, its sim­plis­tic clas­si­fi­ca­tion could even push cus­tomers away from food that has so many sci­en­tif­i­cally-proven health ben­e­fits,” Anna Cane, pres­i­dent of the Association of the Italian Olive Oil Industry (Assitol), told Olive Oil Times in a November 2020 inter­view.

Since its incep­tion, there has been strong oppo­si­tion to Nutri-Score in Italy. However, resis­tance has also grown in Spain, prompt­ing Minister of Consumption Alberto Garzón to announce that pro­duc­ers and dis­trib­u­tors in the world’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­try would be exempted from label­ing their prod­ucts with Nutri-Score.

We have reached an agree­ment with the dis­trib­u­tors so that Nutri-Score is not required for olive oil,” Garzón said at the time. In the mean­time, we are try­ing to change its val­u­a­tion. Olive oil is good for your health and can­not have a label that says it’s bad.”

The Exporters’ Association of Crete has also rejected Nutri-Score. Officials on the olive oil-soaked Greek island, which is respon­si­ble for roughly one-third of the coun­try’s annual pro­duc­tion total, accused the FOPL of mis­lead­ing cus­tomers” by only tak­ing olive oil’s macronu­tri­ents into account in its algo­rithm.

Nutri-Score cre­ator Serge Hercberg told Olive Oil Times in 2020 that the FOPL is meant for con­sumers to com­pare prod­ucts belong­ing to the same food cat­e­gory. He added that the Yellow C” is the health­i­est pos­si­ble rat­ing for a veg­etable or seed oil.

Back in Madrid, Abdellatif Ghedira, the IOC’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, told Kyriakides that the olive oil sec­tor is inter­ested in pro­mot­ing a label capa­ble of prop­erly explain­ing to con­sumers the nutri­tional prop­er­ties and health ben­e­fits of olive oil.”

Olive oils must be pro­moted, and every­thing pos­si­ble must be done to avoid con­fu­sion and penal­iz­ing this prod­uct as is the case with the cur­rent Nutri-Score sys­tem,” he added.

Along with the olive oil sec­tor, Nutri-Score has been widely crit­i­cized by other food pro­ducer groups. Opposition is also grow­ing among pro­duc­ers of tra­di­tional spe­cial­ties in the E.U., espe­cially cheese pro­duc­ers.





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