November 28, 2019

The Nutri Score logo in the current format is confusing for consumers

Thursday November 28th the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has announced which front-of-pack logo is chosen in the Netherlands. After a process of about a year in which a consumer research took place, the State Secretary Paul Blokhuis has announced the Nutri Score logo to be the preferred logo.

As was stated in the Dutch National Prevention Agreement, consumers should be able to see at once which food products are healthy and which food products are not. A consumer research that has been conducted by the Ministry shows that the Nutri Score logo is best understood by consumers. A logo with 5 colors from green to red show how foods score on some important nutrients. This systems seems to communicate clearly and this is positive, but it only concerns the front of the logo.

The back of the logo, the algorithm behind the logo is a different story. It appears that the Nutri Score logo is not in line with the Wheel of Five, nor with international food based dietary guidelines.  This goes for oils and fats specifically, but also for other product categories. The logo is also not a good incentive for product reformulation as for instance the oils and fats product category only scores from yellow to red within Nutri Score that leaves hardly any room for differentiation. A lack of differentiation causes a lack of support for product reformulation but also causes consumers not being able to choose between products with saturated or unsaturated fats.

MVO has stated in an early stage of the stakeholder-process that a front-of-pack logo should be in line with food based dietary guidelines. For the Netherlands this is the Richtlijnen Goede Voeding and the Wheel of Five. In the case of an international logo the important guidelines are from the WHO and the advises from EFSA. There is a broad international consensus amongst nutrition scientists that saturated fats should be replaced by unsaturated fats in the diet. A logo should help making this healthy choice the easy choice. The Nutri Score logo in the current format does not do so.

Although MVO welcomes the fact the Nutri Score logo has the potential to become a harmonized logo within Europe, the logo only works when it is valid. We are concerned that in the complexity of an international process it might take a long time to harmonize the logo with the science. Therefore we call on the State Secretary to do his utmost in trying to reach a good validity as much as possible as fast as possible as products containing the logo might be seen on our shelves way before 2021 (intended date of entry of the logo).


Click here for more information via the Dutch news article.

Last modified: November 28, 2019