New nutrition labelling of food products to be launched in Czechia next year

As of next year, some food manufacturers in the Czech Republic, including Danone or Nestlé, will start labelling their products with colour codes to inform consumers about their nutritional value. The easier navigation of food packaging has been promoted by a platform called Pro Nutri-score, which includes some major medical organisations and food manufacturers.

One of its members is the Czech Confederation of Industry and Tourism. I asked its director, Tomáš Prouza, about the importance of introducing the nutritional labelling system in our country:

“Czechs have a significant problem with their eating habits. Ten years ago only about 25 percent of Czechs were overweight and now it is almost 50 percent.

“As we all know, being overweight or obese has a significant negative impact on our health and changing your eating habit is the easiest way to address that problem.

Tomáš Prouza | Photo: Věra Luptáková,  Czech Radio

“Not everyone is willing to go out and run for half an hour everyday but changing their eating habit is much easier for many people.”

A similar system has been introduced elsewhere in Europe, for instance in France or Belgium. Can this type of labelling really contribute to tackling the problem of growing obesity?

“It definitely does. When we speak to our French and Belgian colleagues we see that it has a significant impact on buying habits.

“When you are making a choice in a supermarket you don’t have time to study the information on the label regarding nutrition or energy values. What makes you stop and think is when you see green or red.

“In France, this very simple way of saying: Let’s think about what we are buying has really seen a move away from the unhealthy foods and limiting how much of these foods people consume. It has also seen a significant growth in fruit and vegetables in general.”

So how does the labelling system actually work?

“Nutriscore is a traffic light signage. It looks at the positive ingredients in foods and negative ones, such as salt and sugar. Using an agreed scientific methodology, it simply computes the significant and negative points in each food and assigns that food one of the five letters A to E, A being the healthiest food, E being a warning that you should think about how much you can consume of that food.”

It is very simple. It is always put on the front of that package, so you see it when you look on the shelves. So when you have for instance 25 different kind of hams, you clearly see which of the hams has a lower content of salt or additives, and is therefore a healthier choice.”