Roquefort against the Nutri-Score: “For AOP cheeses the rating is still just as unfair”, deplores the sector
Since its creation, the Roquefort sector has opposed the Nutri-Score. With a score of E, producers believe the system jeopardizes the sustainability of AOP cheeses.
The general confederation of Roquefort (CGR) continues its fight against the Nutri-Score. Indeed, for several years now, the Aveyronnaise sector has denounced the system which it considers unfair and unsuitable, especially for cheeses with a protected designation of origin (PDO).
According to Sébastien Vignette, general secretary of the CGR, Santé Publique France, at the origin of the institution of the notation, he “misguided” by attributing to Roquefort, considered too fat and too salty, the note by E.
“We apply an ancestral recipe”
“We always ask for the Nutri-Score exemption for PDO cheeses, such as Roquefort, which allows for local and good consumption, to preserve the diversity of tastes and pass on an agricultural, gastronomic and cultural heritage,” explains Sébastien Vignette.
According to him, the problem lies in the producers’ incapacity to modify their recipes, such as the large producers who, poorly evaluated, have been able to review the composition of their food products.
“Like Roquefort AOP, we apply an ancestral recipe that cannot be modified. We have strict specifications. I cannot use skimmed and pasteurized milk, texturizers to replace fat and chemical preservatives to replace salt. If it is a matter of forcing producers tweaking their recipes, assuming they do it in the right direction – without resorting to ultra-processing and complex additives and manufacturing processes – they should be given the Nutri-Score,” he complains.
The fear of a loss of economic momentum
Another disadvantage for Sébastien Vignette: the lack of precision of the logo. “It does not take into account the micronutrients of interest – vitamins, phosphorus, trace elements – and proteins and calcium are poorly considered. Furthermore, the Nutri-Score does not provide information on additives or the transformation process,” says the Secretary General. The CGR is particularly surprised that its sheep’s cheese is compared to ultra-processed products “especially when the algorithm tells the consumer nothing about the processes when we know the harmful effects on health!”.
At the same time, the Roquefort sector also fears for its economy which, according to it, could turn over due to its poor rating which would lead to a significant drop in sales. “We support nearly 2,800 farmers and 2,000 direct workers on products that cannot be relocated and that are part of an area where sometimes no other type of agriculture is possible, especially in mountain areas,” explains Sébastien Vignette.
“There are still many things to change”
“Promoters of Nutri-Score are calling for decreasing consumption of the lowest-scoring products and increasing consumption of the highest-scoring products. This is annoying because the ratings suggest that the highest-scoring foods are good for health and that others hurt when it’s more complex than that,” he laments.
Specifically, the general confederation of Roquefort is now calling for “a system that gives cheese the place it deserves in a balanced diet. Cheeses are recognized for their health benefits. Of course, it all depends on the quantity, but there are still many things by rating change”, recommends the CGR.
As for the latest changes to the calculation algorithm, this is not enough for the Roquefort sector. “We are not addressing all the flaws of the logo. For AOP cheeses, the Nutri-Score remains just as unfair,” considers Sébastien Vignette.