Health

High-voltage vermicelli: Italy turns to battery icons in food-label fight

The Italian government has officially presented plans for a new nutrition-labeling scheme based on a battery design that it hopes will cast its traditional foods in a better light than the green-to-red Nutri-Score — a French label gaining traction across Europe.

The Italian food label, outlined in a notification to the European Commission, is called Nutrinform and resembles a charging light-blue battery. The label shows the percentage of energy and nutrients from a recommended daily intake in a single serving. The cell is full when the daily average recommended amount of a given nutrient has been reached.

Rome developed the system after pressure mounted at home from trade unions and politicians across the political spectrum to find an alternative to Nutri-Scores traffic-light scheme. Italian critics accuse Nutri-Score of discriminating against the countrys gourmet delicacies, such as olive oil, Parma ham and Parmigiano cheese, which flash up on the redder-orangey end of the gauge as dangers to health due to their fat and salt content.

“[Nutrinform] is our alternative to Nutri-Score, but it is far better. It is not penalizing, it does not give good or bad grades,” Italian Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova said in a statement.

Other EU countries have also developed their own schemes, including a slightly different traffic light regime in the U.K. and a

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