MADRID: Spanish Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón has agreed in principle that olive oil should no longer be included in the Nutriscore food system. Within this system, olive oil has a C rating, which means a health warning and could discourage olive oil consumption.
In an emergency meeting with the minister a few days ago, representatives of the olive oil industry complained that Nutriscore did not do justice to its health benefits.
Yellow traffic light
The European food labelling system Nutriscore gives the buyer easy access to the nutritional quality of a product. In other words, they learn more about the nutritional value and the ingredients used in the product. The system uses traffic light colours and scores from A to E. Score A is for products with the healthiest composition and is green. Score E is for products with the least healthy composition and is red in colour.
Extra virgin olive oil has category C classification, which means a yellow rating. Consumers, therefore, feel this is a product warning.
Exemption for olive oil
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has confirmed that it wants olive oil to be exempt from the label. This decision will have to go through the relevant Nutriscore committees for confirmation. However, discussions are well underway and “the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’s position understood,” ministry sources confirm. The fact Spain has formally raised this exclusion with Nutriscore has been well received by the other countries.
The Ministry also points out that even though Spain is introducing the Nutriscore system, this does not automatically mean compulsory labelling for all products. Futthermore the distribution sector agrees there will first be a period of “voluntary” use of the label. In the future, the use of the label may become compulsory. This is precisely why it is so important to speed up the exemption procedures, to avoid future negative consequences for the Spanish industry.
Across the border
Garzón wants the olive oil exemption extended to other countries. Sources report that countries such as France, the Netherlands and Germany are already applying ‘Nutriscore’. Therefore, it is necessary to convince the relevant committees, represented by government and science, that all countries that work with Nutriscore to exempt the oil from the health warning.