Two Dimensions of Nutritional Value: Nutri-Score and NOVA

Nutrients. 2021 Aug 13;13(8):2783. doi: 10.3390/nu13082783.

Abstract

Front-of-pack labels can improve the ability of consumers to identify which foods are healthier, making them a useful public health tool. Nutri-Score is a front-of-pack labelling system adopted by several European countries. This system ranks foods according to their nutritional quality, but does not consider other dimensions such as the degree of food processing. The aim of this study is to compare the nutritional quality (as assessed by Nutri-Score) and the ultra-processing (as assessed by the NOVA classification) of foods in the Open Food Facts database. A simple correspondence analysis was carried out to study the relationship between the two systems. Ultra-processed foods (NOVA 4) were found in all Nutri-Score categories, ranging from 26.08% in nutritional category A, 51.48% in category B, 59.09% in category C, 67.39% in category D to up to 83.69% in nutritional category E. Given the negative effect that the consumption of ultra-processed foods has on different aspects of health, front-of-pack labelling with Nutri-Score should at least be accompanied by complementary labelling indicating the level of processing, such as the NOVA classification.

Keywords: Open Food Facts; food labelling; food quality; nutrition; ultra-processed foods.

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Databases, Factual
  • Europe
  • Fast Foods
  • Food Handling
  • Food Labeling / methods*
  • Food Preferences
  • Food Quality
  • Humans
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Spain