Nutri-Score Algorithm Update Improves Olive Oil Scores

A significant update to the Nutri-Score algorithm will improve the rating of some grades of olive oil, including extra virgin olive oil. 

The revised rating system will soon consider all olive oils in its Light-green‑B category, a step above the current Yellow‑C and just one step below the healthiest rating, the Green‑A.

Its backers said the French-born front-of-pack-labeling (FOPL) system had undergone a broad review in the last 18 months, which set the basis for a significant overhaul of the algorithm. The new ratings will affect several different categories of food.

“Yes, the Nutri-Score algorithm will be changed in the near future,” Serge Hercberg, the creator of Nutri-Score and nutrition professor at the University of Sorbonne Paris Nord, told Olive Oil Times.

The updated rating of fats, such as olive oil and vegetable oils, will consider their macro-nutritional composition, such as the presence of saturated fatty acids.

“In general, vegetable oils are improved by one [rating],” Hercberg said. “Vegetable oils with low levels of saturated fatty acids, such as rapeseed, walnut and oleic sunflower oil, can reach the B classification, as does olive oil. Sunflower oil is shifted to the C classification.”

“For the other products in the category, the classification remains unchanged, with coconut oil and butter remaining classified as E in the Nutri-Score,” he added.

Nutri-Score is a five-color-letter food rating system, with scores ranging from the Green‑A down to the Red‑E. The FOPL is designed to help consumers make healthier choices in the supermarket. The algorithm determines a food item’s score based on the macronutrient content per 100grams or milliliters.

“Nutri-Score is a public health tool built and validated by numerous scientific studies,” Hercberg said. “When it was proposed by scientists in 2014… it was expected that its algorithm would evolve and be regularly revised on the basis of the evolution of scientific knowledge and the experience of its deployment.”

Along with its introduction in France, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, Nutri-Score is also considered the front runner among the food labels being considered for Europen Union-wide adoption. A formal decision is expected to come before the end of the year.

The steering committee, formed at the beginning of last year by the seven European countries that have adopted Nutri-Score, announced the review of the FOPL’s algorithm.

Its goal is to facilitate the debate on Nutri-Score, support food producers in using and understanding Nutri-Score and support the work of the scientific branch.

The scientific committee, which was tasked with developing and implementing the labeling platform, presented the report on the update.

The update rebalances how the algorithm considers the food’s nutritional elements. In the case of olive oil, its polyphenols and other micronutrients are taken into consideration. More