Nutri-Score on the menu, a welcome guide
The setting is like something out of a dream. Deep in the pine woods, surrounded by nature and only six miles from Cannes. Some students are taking their lunch on the terrace under the winter sun. Catering Manager Vincent Menardo introduces us to the school restaurant: “Ours is a different kind of self-service, because students are free to put together their own meal trays with no restrictions, so that they can eat a varied diet across their three meals of the day.” 15-year-old Elya is sitting at a table with her friends from the Italian section of this international high school. They all agree on just how important the quality of food is. “My mother is very much into Nutri-Score and organic food,” says Elya. “I take a look at the menu as soon as I come into the restaurant, and choose what I feel like eating. The Nutri-Score rating helps me see whether I’m making healthy choices or not.” Tatiana agrees: “I always check out the Nutri-Score, because I have high cholesterol. So that information is important for me.”
I take a look at the menu as soon as I come into the restaurant, and choose what I feel like eating.
“From 9th Grade up, students here really care about the food on their plates,” picks up Vincent Menardo. This is a generation that seems much more aware of the importance of healthy eating and demands transparency, and it’s also a generation that makes its choices based on ratings of all kinds. Nevertheless, some essential foods are rated D. “Our young people eat quite well,” says CIV school nurse Christine. “But we have to continually explain the benefits of cheese, because its D rating tends to make younger girls in particular too cautious to the point where they exclude this useful source of calcium from their diet.” It’s a pitfall that Sirine, a student on the Science CPGE (higher education preparatory) program, admits having fallen into herself. “I was fooled at first!” she admits. “I was ruling out anything D-rated, which meant that I was getting no dairy at all, without actually realizing it! Luckily, when I read the Nutri-Score flyers a bit more carefully, I could see that I’d been mistaken.”
All the students agree: education is essential to understand what the Nutri-Score system is all about and deal with the psychological barrier raised by lowrated foods. Elya continues: “The Nutri- Score ratings help you make good choices, but the most important thing is enjoying what you eat! If you’ve got the choice of an A-rated fruit and a D-rated chocolate dessert, there’s no contest: you’re going to take the chocolate every time... obviously!” It’s essentially a question of balance, and one that Badr – soon to be 18 – deals with pretty quickly. “I look at the menu and the Nutri-Score ratings... and then I choose what I feel like eating! As a vegetarian active in sport, I naturally want to eat healthily.” Two options on that day’s menu proved particularly popular with our young guests: the B-rated organic chili con carne, and the D-rated duck breast.
The Nutri- Score ratings help you make good choices, but the most important thing is enjoying what you eat!
Hoodies up and headphones on, David and Eden make short work of the duck breast. These two 11th Graders know perfectly well that French fries followed by chocolate donuts don’t necessarily make for the best balanced meal. But they also know all about Nutri-Score. “My parents talked to me about it, and there was a presentation about in 4th grade,” says Eden. “But if something’s D-rated, then – hey – I’ll take it! We have a lot of classes, so lunch break is all about us!” David continues: “It’s important to have this information so you can eat healthily. But when duck breast pops up in the cafeteria, you don’t look at the Nutri-Score rating!”