SPANISH health authorities have announced they will introduce a new system for classifying the nutrition of food after it was successfully launched in France.
Food and drinks manufacturers will soon be required to label food according to the ‘Nutri-score’ system, which ranks products based on their healthiness. It is set to replace the existing ‘traffic light’ systems.
It comes as part of wider government plans to crack down on unhealthy food, including banning the sale of such products in schools.
Maria Luisa Carcedo, Spain’s Health Minister said the new system would allow buyers to compare foods and make more informed decisions.
The system has been implemented voluntarily by food makers in France and has reportedly received positive feedback from customers, scientists, dieticians and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The announcement comes ahead of an expected ruling from the European Commission (EC) on which labelling system European Union (EU) members will be required to use next year.
The Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) said the new system was welcome but added the government needed to provide more information for consumers with particular dietary requirements.
The Nutri-Score system consists of a five letter colour-coded ranking system. The colours range from green for the healthiest food through to yellow and orange and then red for the unhealthiest.
The letters run from A through to E. Food and drink labelled with a deep green A are the healthiest while those with a red E are the unhealthiest.
Ratings for products come from an algorithm that assigns a score from 0 to 10 to products based on the amount of energy, sugar, fat and salt.
These negative scores are weighed against positives ones with the same algorithm used to assign scores based on how much fruit and vegetables, fibre and protein is in a product.
Subtracting the positive from the negative gives the total score. The higher the score the more unhealthy the food and closer to the red E on the Nutri-Score scale.