Criteria for using the symbol as an additional labelling of foods with better nutritional composition (V3-1901)

Participating organizations:

  • Nutrition Institute 
  • National Institute of Public Health

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Igor Pravst

Project duration: 1.11.2019 - 31.10.2021

Financing:

  • Slovenian Research Agency [SICRIS]
  • Ministry of Health of the Republic of Slovenia


Project goals:

  • the definition of key parameters to be considered when establishing the national scheme criteria;
  • the setting of criteria for the attribution of the symbol for the additional labeling of foods beneficial to health;
  • the verification of the adequacy of the proposed criteria on a representative sample of foods.

In Slovenia and many other developed countries, chronic non-communicable diseases represent the most common cause of mortality. Many are closely related to nutrition, which can act either as a risk factor, or as a protective factor that promotes health and improves the quality of life. In relation to this, the consumer’s perception and recognition of healthier foods is very significant. It is the consumer’s right to have credible information provided in order to determine whether certain food is good for her/him, what the food is composed of and whether the food is healthy. People as consumers chose foods daily and the selection process involves complex decision-making processes. The competition among food producers is high, which has led to an increase in the number of foods within each category, both nutritionally more or less adequate. Food labeling should enable the consumer to make the choice of foods as quick and easy as possible, and may also help distinguish such foods, thereby affecting his choice and, consequently, the nutritional status. Making healthy food choices easier and the possibility of enforcing the national scheme for easier recognition
and choice of healthy foods is presented as part of the Resolution on the national programme on nutrition and physical activity for health 2015–2025. These project proposal addresses an important challenge that needs to be resolved for successfully established additional voluntary food labeling at the national level, namely the establishment of criteria for such a scheme.

The symbols labeled foods are more attractive to consumers, and they are also an important element of the labeling, which helps them decide on the food purchase. Outside of Slovenia, a number of such symbols are used, which are most commonly appearing on the front of the food packaging. The criteria for the allocation of such symbols must be consistent with the dietary guidelines, considering the public health aspects, and at the same time must also address the expectations of consumers and the food producers. Within the project, we will address the following objectives: the definition of key parameters to be considered when establishing the national scheme criteria; the setting of criteria for the attribution of the symbol for the additional labeling of foods beneficial to health, and the verification of the adequacy of the proposed criteria on a representative sample of foods. Extra attention will be given to the establishment of criteria for the symbol for the incentive effect of the criteria for nutrient reformulation, which are important in terms of public health. The results of the project will make an important contribution to the design and management of nutrition policy, mostly to the regulation in the area of effective labeling in order to better understand nutrition information on foods and to encourage food producers to reformulate foods. The results will also be important for food manufacturers in order to properly plan the development of health-beneficial foods that will be promoted effectively with the help of a developed software tool, and, of course, for consumers, as it will enable them to make healthy choice an easy choice. Based on the results, we will prepare recommendations for forming the national scheme for the voluntary labelling of healthier foods. This will support effective evidencebased policy decisions in the areas of nutrition and public health. The project will also connect the key stakeholders that should participate in the development and introduction of the scheme for the voluntary labelling of healthier foods. To that end, a Consultative Committee of key stakeholders will be set up to coordinate the harmonization of the criteria of the national scheme the symbol for the additional labeling of healthier foods.

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Nutrition institute is engaged in research and education in the field of nutrition and advising the food industry in the formulation and labeling of foods. In the scope of the institute, research group Healthy Nutrition is established, which performs research on food and nutrition.