News 03.08.2020

How the food lobby is trying to water down the Nutri-Score Label

  • Traffic light labels
  • Sugar, fat & salt
  • Transparency and food safety

The Nutri-Score label is under attack: Germany’s food lobby wants to change the traffic-light label so that unhealthy products appear healthier – with these changes, even several sugary beverages would get a green light for “good nutritional quality”.

Food companies are lobbying feverishly to change the basis for calculating the Nutri-Score. Numerous unscientific demands have been made, above all by the Food Federation Germany, the leading association of the German food industry.

These demands were revealed in a set of internal documents that foodwatch obtained from the Max Rubner-Institut – Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food (MRI), whose research work focuses on consumer health protection in the nutrition sector.

Initially, the food lobby sought to prevent the introduction of the Nutri-Score; now it hopes to make the labelling scheme as harmless as possible for manufacturers. We can’t allow the lobby associations to succeed with this plan!
Luise Molling foodwatch campaigner

These are the food lobby’s 7 most audacious demands


By filing a request under the German Freedom of Information Act, foodwatch was able to obtain documents from the Max-Rubner-Institut that reveal the absurd and largely unscientific demands with which the industry lobby is trying to water down the thresholds applied to computing the Nutri-Score. The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture had tasked the research institute with evaluating the lobby’s demands but had yet to publish the related documents.

No labelling system is perfect, and even the Nutri-Score has room for improvement. However, the lobby association’s absurd demands, which would make even sausage and sugary beverages look healthier, are not a helpful contribution to this debate.
Luise Molling foodwatch campaigner

The algorithms used for calculating the Nutri-Score are due to be evaluated at European level in the coming year – the Food Federation of Germany submitted its demands in this context. foodwatch is calling on decision-makers to ensure that the Nutri-Score algorithm will be further developed solely on the basis of independent scientific assessments and not the wishes of the food industry.

In a few months the Nutri-Score model will be introduced by manufacturers on a voluntary basis in Germany. It is intended for use as a front-of-pack nutrition label for processed foods. The European Commission is planning to propose a mandatory European nutrition label for food products in the fourth quarter of 2022.