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OCU warns: a ration is not the right measure to nutritionally inform consumers

09 mar. 2017

Yesterday, Tuesday, March 8th, major food companies announced that they will develop color nutritional schemes to label their products. BEUC (European Consumers' Association) and OCU applaud this step forward but regret the way manufacturers want to define colors to reflect their nutritional values.

According to OCU, it is a good thing that major food companies finally recognize the usefulness of the "colored lights" scheme to help consumers choose healthier foods and healthier foods. In this sense both BEUC and OCU are satisfied by this advance to better inform consumers. Since both consumer organizations have been demanding that this schematic nutritional labeling is mandatory for the industry and that simple color codes are used in the packaging. Consumers today have a frantic pace of life and have little time to devote to food shopping. The basic idea for this new system is that you can see quickly and easily at a glance the amount of fat, saturated fat, simple sugars and salt in the food they buy.

The companies have chosen to show these color codes for one portion, instead of 100 g / ml. Although this is a first step, OCU does not approve this measurement model by "ration" because it makes it difficult to Consumers to compare products and can also be "misleading" when deciding whether a product is healthy or not.

In practice, for example, more "green" or "amber" colors can be found in breakfast cereals, pastry products or cookies than would a priori correspond. All these products have high amounts of fat, sugar or salt which should carry "red lights" according to eg set the UK color coding system.

Therefore OCU and BEUC have serious doubts that this type of color code by size of rations is adequate to inform and educate the consumer. In the absence of a legal and consensual definition of the size of the rations, these should not be the reference values because they are not always realistic, for example, who eats only 30 g of cereals at breakfast? Or who eats sweets only to complete the ration recommended by the manufacturer?