Nutri-Score calculation changes for beverages

May 21, 2023
Sébastien Bouley

The right to use Nutri-Score is optional and free. It was implemented for the first time in France in 2017, based on the work of the team of Pr. Serge Hercberg as well as the expertise of the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) and the High Council of Public Health (HCSP). Since its launch in France, several countries have decided to recommend its use: Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The logo is awarded on the basis of a score taking into account, for 100 g or 100 mL of product, the content: of nutrients and foods to promote (fibers, proteins, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, rapeseed oil , nuts and olives) and nutrients to limit (energy, saturated fatty acids, sugars, salt). The Nutri-Score of drinks has been modified.


Evolution of the Nutri-Score calculation algorithm for beverages

In a report submitted to the Nutri-Score steering committee in February 2023 for drinks, the scientific committee proposed a combination of modifications to the calculation algorithm.The proposed changes will strengthen the effectiveness of the Nutri-Score to classify foods in line with the dietary recommendations of the various countries, and thus guide consumers towards food choices that are more favorable to health.

The purpose of these changes is to:

  1. Harmonize the algorithm by ensuring consistent classification of all beverages. Thus, milk, dairy drinks and vegetable drinks have been included in this algorithm by ensuring a classification of skimmed and semi-skimmed milk in the most favorable classes and by allowing a differentiation between the different types of milk according to their content in fats and with sweetened milk drinks;
  2. Better differentiate the nutritional composition of drinks according to their sugar content, in particular for low-sweetened drinks, and modify the algorithm in order to limit the substitution of sugars by sweeteners;
  3. Maintain the specific position of water – the only beverage recommended without reservation by international organizations – in category A;
  4. Maintain a generally similar classification of fruit juices and nectars (including smoothies) compared to the current Nutri-Score algorithm, deemed adequate by experts in the light of the scientific literature.

Next steps for implementing the new algorithm

From now on, countries that have already deployed the Nutri-Score can initiate their national procedure aimed at formally adopting the new calculation algorithm. In order to ensure consistency between the different territories, the countries have agreed on a coordinated implementation of the new algorithm once the regulatory procedures have been finalized by the different countries by the end of 2023. As of this date, operators will have two years to adapt the Nutri-Score of their products. The evolutions of the algorithm for food and beverages will be added in the regulations for the use of Nutri-Score in this sense. The scientific report and the rules of use are currently available so that operators can prepare for the adaptations. In addition, the Q&A document and the Excel calculator are also being reviewed by committed countries and will be made available by the summer. In order to facilitate this deployment, operators will be supported by the competent authorities in the various countries involved and specific communication will be implemented to explain these developments and support consumers.

These changes are in addition to the last changes to the algorithm for solid foods made in June 2022.

The transnational governance of Nutri-Score

The competent authorities of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland have set up a transnational coordination mechanism to facilitate the use of Nutri-Score nutrition labeling on the front of packaging.This cooperation will take place within a steering committee and a scientific committee.

The steering committee held its first meeting on January 25, 2021. It coordinates the implementation and deployment of Nutri-Score.

The committee brings together representatives of the national authorities responsible for implementing Nutri-Score in each country. Its objective is to facilitate the use of Nutri-Score by manufacturers in the food sector, to help small businesses and to make the link with consumers, by implementing common and effective procedures.

The scientific committee organized its first meeting on February 12, 2021. Its task is to assess possible changes to the Nutri-Score for better effectiveness on consumer health, in synergy with dietary recommendations.

To do this, it is based on the analysis of the scientific literature and the demands of Nutri-Score stakeholders. A first call for contributions was published in 2021. In accordance with the mandate of the steering committee, the 7 countries involved in Nutri-Score governance met on July 26 and March 30, 2023 to give an opinion on the proposals for the evolution of the Nutri-Score algorithm of the scientific committee for food and for beverages respectively. Given the positive impact of these changes on the classification of foods and beverages by the Nutri-Score, in line with the dietary recommendations, the steering committee voted in favor of adopting these changes relating to the calculation algorithm for solid foods and beverages.


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