Nutritional Score - Color Notes - France
A system of grades from A to E to simplify nutritional labeling
In the report "Proposals for a new impetus to the French public health nutrition policy in the framework of the National Health Strategy" (pdf), Professor Serge Hercberg advocates for the adoption of a system of grades from A to E on the front of food to allow to simply compare the nutritional quality of products.
These color accents are set by calculating a nutritional score that reflects for the 1st part of the energy, saturated fat, sugars, sodium (high levels are considered unhealthy), and for the 2nd part of the proportion of fruits, vegetables and nuts, fibers and proteins (high levels are considered good for health).
To learn more:
- A 2 minutes video : What labeling for food products?
- Petition for a simple , intuitive and understandable by all nutritional labeling on the front of food packages
The nutritional score on Open Food Facts
The formula for calculating the nutritional score, the thresholds of the grades and the various tweaking proposals were transmitted by Professor Hercberg's team. This formula was the subject of studies and adaptations for the French market.
The version adopted officially and implementated on Open Food Facts is the one from the report NOTICE of the High Council for Public Health relating to information on the nutritional quality of food products published on June 25, 2015.
However, we calculated the nutritional score for products sold on French soil and referenced in the database Open Food Facts, and determined the corresponding A to E grades. This allows in particular to compare the nutritional score and / or notes of different products, and to study the distribution for each product category.
Formula to calculate the nutritional score
Points are given to the products according to the amount of nutrients they contain per 100 g.
A Points are given for the nutrients considered "bad" and C points are given for the "good" nutrients and the content in fruits, vegetables and nuts.
A points are the sum of points for energy, saturated fat, sugars and sodium.
|Points||Energy (kJ)||Saturated Fat (g)||Azucres (g)||Sodium (mg)|
The C points are the sum of points for fruits, vegetables and nuts, for fiber and protein.
|Points||Fruits, vegetables and nuts (%)||Fibre (g)||Protein (g)|
Note: potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, cassava and tapioca are not included in fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Nutritional score calculation
- If A points < 11 then score = A points - C points
- If A points ≥ 11
- If the points for fruit, vegetables and nuts = 5, then score = A points - C points
- If the points for fruit, vegetables and nuts < 5, then score = A points - (fiber points + points for points fruits, vegetables and nuts)
Adaptations for the French market
The formula of nutritional score indicated above corresponds to the formula of the nutritional score of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK.
The team of Professor Hercberg offers adaptations for the French market that are implemented to calculate the score on Open Food Facts.
Adaptation for cheese
For cheeses, points for the proteins are substracted from the score even if the A points are ≥ 11.
Adaptation for fat
To help differentiate between fats (oils, margarines, crèmes fraîches), all of which have rates of saturated fat higher than the maximum threshold of 10 g, another grid that takes into account the ratio of saturated fatty acids on the total fat is applied:
|Points||Ratio Saturated Fat / Total Fat|
Adaptations for fruits and vegetables
The nuts are not taken into account for the calculation of the content of fruits and vegetables.
Adaptations for drinks
Warning: the nutritional score for milk and vegetable milks is calculated with the general formula and not the formula for drinks.
The threshold of points for energy and for sugars are modified for drinks, and points are doubled for fruits:
|Points||Energy (kJ)||Azucres (g)||Fruits, vegetables (%)|
|0||0||0||< = 40|
|1||≤30||≤1,5 or sweeteners|
Color grades thresholds
The thresholds used to assign the color grades are:
- A - Green: up to -1
- B - Yellow: from 0 to 2
- C - Orange: from 3 to 10
- D - Rose: from 11 to 18
- E - Red: 19 and more
Only water (mineral and spring, with the exclusion of flavored waters) is graded A.
- A - Green: mineral waters and spring waters
- B - Yellow: up to 1
- C - Orange: from 2 to 5
- D - Rose: from 6 to 9
- E - Red: 10 and more
Warning: This score may still not match the recommended score:
- The fiber content is not necessarily present in the nutrition table. When the latter is not indicated, any positive contribution of the fibers is not taken into account. We encourage all producers to indicate the fiber content of their products on the packaging thereof. <--end of current proofread -->
- The points corresponding to the levels in fruits and vegetables are not taken into account for all products. The fruit , vegetables content
is indeed not on the package within the nutrition table, and we'll have to determine it
with other information (such as the words "minimum fruit content", the category of products (eg. jams contain 50% fruit) and/or the ingredient list.)
- A new field "Fruits, vegetables (minimum)" was created to record the values of the terms "minimum content of fruit / vegetables" etc.
- By default, the products in certain categories are considered to have a minimum content of:
- For the lyophilized food (packaged soups, etc.), the score should be calculated for the reconstituted product, not the raw product as is currently the case.
You can help us learn the fruit content, vegetables and nuts products. For more information, see the Nutritional Labeling project on the wiki.
Note: tubers such as potatoes and sweet potatoes are not considered vegetables to calculate nutritional score.
We thank Professor Serge Hercberg and Dr. Chantal Julia for their help and the data they have communicated us to calculate the nutritional score. These data come from the work of the Research Team in Nutritional Epidemiology (EREN) of the Paris 13 University / Avicenne Hospital.