Main content area

Nutrient profiling for product reformulation: public health impact and benefits for the consumer

Lehmann, Undine, Charles, Véronique Rheiner, Vlassopoulos, Antonis, Masset, Gabriel, Spieldenner, Jörg
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2017 v.76 no.3 pp. 255-264
beverages, consumer behavior, cost effectiveness, food choices, food industry, food intake, health status, healthy diet, issues and policy, monitoring, nutrient content, nutritive value, stakeholders
The food industry holds great potential for driving consumers to adopt healthy food choices as (re)formulation of foods can improve the nutritional quality of these foods. Reformulation has been identified as a cost-effective intervention in addressing non-communicable diseases as it does not require significant alterations of consumer behaviour and dietary habits. Nutrient profiling (NP), the science of categorizing foods based on their nutrient composition, has emerged as an essential tool and is implemented through many different profiling systems to guide reformulation and other nutrition policies. NP systems should be adapted to their specific purposes as it is not possible to design one system that can equally address all policies and purposes, e.g. reformulation and labelling. The present paper discusses some of the key principles and specificities that underlie a NP system designed for reformulation with the example of the Nestlé nutritional profiling system. Furthermore, the impact of reformulation at the level of the food product, dietary intakes and public health are reviewed. Several studies showed that food and beverage reformulation, guided by a NP system, may be effective in improving population nutritional intakes and thereby its health status. In order to achieve its maximum potential and modify the food environment in a beneficial manner, reformulation should be implemented by the entire food sector. Multi-stakeholder partnerships including governments, food industry, retailers and consumer associations that will state concrete time-bound objectives accompanied by an independent monitoring system are the potential solution.