Chantal Julia, physician and nutritionist: “Nutri-Score for catering settings is calculated on the basis of the recipe and cooking method”
She tells us about the role played and challenges overcome by the scientific team in rolling out the Nutri-Score scheme for contract catering settings.
Why did you adapt the Nutri-Score system for the meals served to high school students?
Chantal Julia Nutri-Score becomes valuable whenever consumers need to make informed choices. In our teenage years, we’re beginning to become independent, and are highly likely to do the opposite of what our parents may suggest. Teenagers like external benchmarks to measure their decisions against, so Nutri-Score gives them that, and it’s credible for the very reason that it’s calculated outside the family. So this then empowers them to question the nutritional quality of their food in general terms, and make their own conscious choices based on accurate information about nutrition.
Is the Nutri-Score for catering calculated in the same way as it is for food products?
CJ The same principle applies, except for the fact that in contract catering, products are offered in a ready-to-eat form. So unlike supermarket products, Nutri-Score for catering settings is calculated on the basis of the recipe and cooking method. For example, the Nutri-Score for a burger will be calculated on the basis of the cooked meat, and will therefore include additional fat and any reduction in volume as a result of cooking.
Our contribution was automating the process of calculating the Nutri-Score and ensuring that our calculations were consistent, taking into account all the data specific to contract catering.
Chantal Julia, nutritionnist
What role did the scientific team play in the rollout of the Nutri-Score scheme for contract catering settings?
CJ We joined with Elior in responding to a French Ministry of Health call for projects on the suitability and potential impact of Nutri-Score on contract catering. We worked as an independent research team to set up the most rigorous scientific study we could design. Our contribution was automating the process of calculating the Nutri-Score and ensuring that our calculations were consistent, taking into account all the data specific to contract catering. And for the purposes of this research, we specifically asked that no recipe should be changed: we expressly didn’t want to introduce any behavioral bias on the supply side, because our work was focused entirely on consumer behavior. For consumers to change their habits, they must not only want to do so, but they must also have the information they need to do so.