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Supermarkets test out healthy eating scores on packaging
Healthy eating scores are starting to appear on food packaging in Belgian supermarkets to help customers see at a glance which products are good for them and which to avoid.
The nutri-score index, which already exists in the UK and France, provides an easy-to-read diagram, ranking a product from the healthiest (dark green, A) to the least healthy (dark red, E).
Sugars, fatty acids, salt and high calory counts all contribute to a negative score, while the presence of fruit and vegetables, fibre and protein can improve the overall score.
Delhaize has become the first to implement the new scheme on products ranging from soups to breakfast cereals. The supermarket chain aims to extend it to all of its own-brand products within two years.
Colruyt will begin displaying nutri-scores from late September, starting with a dozen of its Boni own-brand items. A Carrefour spokesman said it would follow accordingly.
Federal health minister Maggie De Block said the nutri-score system was optional and encouraged food producers to embrace it. But Belgian food industry federation Fevia said: "In our opinion, this is not the right tool to lead people to a more balanced diet."
Fevia considers the colour coding "too simplistic", adding: "Two different consumers may have completely different needs in terms of food."
The organisation says it could also be harmful for sales of Belgian chocolate. "It's a product we should be proud of," Fevia said. "Do we really want to export it with a red warning sign on the packaging?"
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga