SCIENTISTS have attacked supermarket giant Carrefour over food labels it uses to advise customers on diet and how often to eat certain products.
A group of 33 medical groups, nutritionists and consumer associations signed an open letter in the Journal International de Médecine saying the new once-a-day, twice-a-day and time-to-time labelling system was not defendable by science.
While the scientists described the exercise as laudable they said it “sent the wrong message to consumers”.
“It gives the impression that you can eat cheese pizzas every day, or stracciatella desserts twice a day,” said leading nutritionist Professor Serge Hercberg, of medical research group Inserm.
Their open letter recommends a traffic light system but with five colours, indicating a general level of healthiness for food.
Carrefour says this system unfairly stigmatises fatty and sugary foods. It said it has no plans to change its new labelling system.
It adds that its dietary labels are the work of a team of five scientists who are looking at the company’s products with the aim of covering 600-700 foods from January.
Carrefour unveiled its labels last month in response to former health secretary Marisol Touraine’s call for supermarkets to use a voluntary, single, set of dietary advice.
• Carrefour’s labelling landed it in trouble earlier this year, when it listed 12g of cocaine as being part of the ingredients of a set of cakes sold in Argentina. The error was attributed to a disgruntled employee.