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  • Original Article
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A method to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages based on dietary recommendations

Abstract

Objective:

The increasing consumer interest in health prompted Unilever to develop a globally applicable method (Nutrition Score) to evaluate and improve the nutritional composition of its foods and beverages portfolio.

Methods:

Based on (inter)national dietary recommendations, generic benchmarks were developed to evaluate foods and beverages on their content of trans fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, sodium and sugars. High intakes of these key nutrients are associated with undesirable health effects. In principle, the developed generic benchmarks can be applied globally for any food and beverage product. Product category-specific benchmarks were developed when it was not feasible to meet generic benchmarks because of technological and/or taste factors.

Results:

The whole Unilever global foods and beverages portfolio has been evaluated and actions have been taken to improve the nutritional quality. The advantages of this method over other initiatives to assess the nutritional quality of foods are that it is based on the latest nutritional scientific insights and its global applicability.

Conclusions:

The Nutrition Score is the first simple, transparent and straightforward method that can be applied globally and across all food and beverage categories to evaluate the nutritional composition. It can help food manufacturers to improve the nutritional value of their products. In addition, the Nutrition Score can be a starting point for a powerful health indicator front-of-pack. This can have a significant positive impact on public health, especially when implemented by all food manufacturers.

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Correspondence to J A Weststrate.

Additional information

Guarantor: JA Weststrate.

Contributors: CAJN, IMZ, AJCR, RL, CvdK, JAW, GWM contributed to the development of the Nutrition Score methodology. AS drafted the paper and CAJN, IMZ, AJCR, RL, CvdK, JAW and GWM commented upon and revised drafts. All authors gave their approval to the final version submitted for publication.

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Nijman, C., Zijp, I., Sierksma, A. et al. A method to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages based on dietary recommendations. Eur J Clin Nutr 61, 461–471 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602548

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