the Exporters' Association of Crete logo and name, with a stylized blue and orange bird design embracing the blue lettering

The Exporters’ Association of Crete, the Region of Crete, and eight Cretan groups and chambers of commerce have published a letter objecting to Nutri-Score, the French front-of-pack nutrition rating system that is being considered for use throughout the European Union. The letter contends that the Nutri-Score system is flawed and should not be adopted.

In their letter, the Exporters’ Association of Crete (EAC), the Region of Crete, and others agree that the goal of harmonized front-of-pack-labeling (FOPL) systems is to help consumers make healthier food choices. However, the Cretan leaders do not believe Nutri-Score will have that effect.

Developed in France and used in some areas beginning in 2017, Nutri-Score is a food evaluation and categorization system that aims to evaluate the nutritional value of food products and classify them in one of five categories, with letter grades of A, B, C, D, or E. Products marked "A" (green) are said to be the healthiest, while those graded "E" (red) are supposed to have the lowest nutritional value.

The Nutri-Score front-of-pack nutrition label, with the letters A, B, C, D, and E lined up in different colored boxes, with dark green for A, followed by light green for B, yellow for C, orange for D, and red for E. In this image, the yellow spot for C is a larger oval than the other spots, indicating a C grade.

The Nutri-Score system appears to be popular with many food companies, consumers’ organizations, and European retailers, according to the letter from Crete, “mainly due to its simplicity.” Yet the letter’s signatories contend that this simplicity can jeopardize its effectiveness. The problem, they claim, is that the Nutri-Score algorithm evaluates only a fraction of a product’s real nutritional value.

The EAC and their cosigners are concerned that Nutri-Score “DOES NOT consider the overall quality of each food product or ingredient (natural or chemical), neither the recommended daily consumption nor the possible presence of healthy ingredients like vitamins, biophenols, antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, probiotics, etc. The result is that instead of presenting valuable information to the consumer for a healthier diet, Nutri-Score directs them away from totally natural or single-ingredient products in favor of processed food (which can easily adjust recipes to achieve a higher score in the algorithm, but not necessarily to become healthier).”

“A great example of the above misleading classification” mentioned in the letter is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), “a single-ingredient and natural product with scientifically proven health value and a basic ingredient of the world-recognized Mediterranean diet, which is classified in category C, while other processed foods and soft drinks appear as healthier and in a higher category (B or even A).” The International Olive Council agrees that EVOO deserves the highest categorization, which is A for Nutri-Score.

These Cretan exporters and business leaders fear that if the European Commission selects Nutri-Score as the EU’s one sole mandatory FOPL in 2022 “under its current form and algorithm, the consequences will be catastrophic for both consumers’ health and producers’ economic well-being.”

The Exporters’ Association of Crete, the four Chambers of Commerce in Crete, several olive oil associations, and a university department have argued that for extra virgin olive oil only the highest category, an A rating in Nutri-Score, is appropriate. They contend that the same applies for other single-ingredient natural products, such as honey. If the A rating cannot be agreed on, the Cretan Exporters Association insists that all natural and single-ingredient products must be excluded from any front-of-pack labeling system. This request was also submitted during the call for proposals for a revision of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 in January 2021.

Interested in affirming the European Union’s positive messages about the quality and health benefits of natural products such as extra virgin olive oil, the EAC is striving to inform all involved parties, authorities, and organizations both in and beyond Greece of the problems associated with the implementation of the Nutri-Score system. The EAC is also submitting proposals “for the modification of the evaluation criteria of this system and the more objective categorization of food products.”

Signed by Exporters Association of Crete president Alkiviadis Kalabokis and vice president Emmanouil Karpadakis, the letter about the disadvantages of Nutri-Score was written with the support of the Region of Crete and co-signed by the following associations and authorities: the Chambers of Commerce of Heraklion, Rethymno, Lasithi, and Chania; the Associations of Olive Millers of Heraklion and of Chania, the Association of Olive Oil Bottlers of Crete, and the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of the Hellenic Mediterranean University.

Thanks to the Exporters Association of Crete for sharing their logo. The Nutri-Score image comes from, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons at

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and/or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as others interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only wide-ranging English-language site focused on news and information from the Greek olive oil world, it has helped companies reach consumers in more than 215 countries around the globe.

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