France rolls out colour-coded food labels to help public improve diet

The Local France
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France rolls out colour-coded food labels to help public improve diet
Photo: AFP

New nutritional logos will be added to selected products in French supermarkets from April in the hopes of making the French public eat healthier.


Usually you're told to read the small print, but soon it won't be necessary - at least if we're talking about the list of ingredients on the back of supermarket items. 
The idea was revealed by France's health minister in May last year, and was tested in sixty supermarkets across the country. 
When the colour-coded system - called the "Nutri-score" - is rolled out in April, it will see selected foods and drinks ranked on a scale of A to E, with the colours ranging from dark green to red. 
If a product is labelled with a Green A then you can rest assured you've chosen the healthy alternative. 

The idea is that it will be easier for customers to choose between two brands offering the same product, all based on their nutritional content.

So in theory, a frozen pizza with a Green A should be more enticing to a customer than another pizza with a Red E. 
Health Minster Marisol Touraine said she hoped the move would see French people eating less fat, salt, and sugar. 
"A good diet is a part of being healthy," she told Le Parisien newspaper.
She added that around 30 percent of adults in France were overweight and about 15 percent were obese - with the disadvantaged families the worst affected. 
"The indicators on food today are often too hard to analyze. They need to be understandable at a glance," she added. 
Food brands won't be forced to label their foods according to the new system as that would be against EU laws, but Touraine said she hopes for a "snowball effect" as other brands join the movement.  
It's not the first time France has turned to logos to help drive an improvement in the quality of food.
In 2014 it rolled out a "fait maison" logo for menus that was aimed at encouraging French restaurants to serve up homemade dishes rather than ready meals.
France saw a raft of controversial health reforms in 2015, part of which saw a crackdown on obesity. It included the banning of unlimited refills of soft drinks and harsher penalties for binge drinkers.  


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