Similar to refrigerators, there is also a label with classifications for food: the Nutri-Score is intended to help with a healthier diet. Researchers have studied whether this works.
The Nutri-Score helps consumers to identify foods containing sugar and thus contributes to a healthier diet. This is what scientists from the University of Göttingen report after a study in the journal PLOS One. According to the study, the voluntary product label in Germany counteracts misleading information about sugar.
With statements such as “no additional sugar”, companies often give the impression that products are healthier than they actually are, writes the team led by Kristin Jürkenbeck from the “Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products” chair. The Nutri-Score helps consumers to unmask such inaccurate statements.
Nutri-Score ranges from A to E
The Nutri-Score assesses the amount of sugar, fat, salt, fibre, protein, or proportion of fruit and vegetables per 100 grams of a food. The resulting total value is shown on a five-stage scale: from A to a dark green field for the most favorable balance through a yellow C to a red E for the most unfavorable.
For the study, participants were shown three different retail-like products online – a ready-to-eat cappucino, a chocolate granola, and an oat drink. These were each printed differently with Nutri-Score or sugar messages as used by companies. Participants rated products with the company claiming reduced sugar content as healthier than they actually were. This was not the case with the foodstuffs that were printed with the Nutri-Score – sometimes additionally.
Misleading claims about sugar content
The authors emphasize that high sugar consumption can increase the risk of obesity and other diseases. They are therefore calling for restrictions on misleading sugar claims. If companies provide such information on their products, the Nutri-Score should be mandatory.
The product label is increasingly being used in various European countries. In Germany, it has been possible to use it voluntarily since November 2020. “By August 15, 2022, around 310 companies from Germany with around 590 brands had registered for the Nutri-Score,” said the Federal Ministry of Food.
The Nutri-Score is a useful addition, said a spokeswoman for the ministry. The list of ingredients and nutritional value table would enable consumers to identify the types of sugar a food contains.