Nutri-Score, housing types & Co. – what you should know
You want to eat sustainably and environmentally conscious? Then you should know the most important abbreviations and descriptions when buying food! We present them to you.
- Note: The following tips are not recommendations for health. For a diet tailored to you, please consult a doctor or nutrition coach.
The Nutri-Score tells you how valuable a food is for your body. The Nutri-Score is calculated from the energy content and the quality of the ingredients.
In general, the higher the energy content and the healthier the ingredients, the higher the Nutri-Score. However, the Nutri-Score also has weaknesses, as you can read below under the section Problems with the Nutri-Score.
These ingredients make for a good Nutri-Score:
- Dietary Fiber
- Walnut, olive and canola oil
These ingredients make for a poor Nutri-Score:
- High total energy
- Saturated fatty acids
The Nutri-Score goes over an alphabetical scale from the letters A to E, we briefly explain each score level.
You can buy foods with this Nutri-Score without hesitation and consume them daily.
If you see the “B” on a package, this food is also considered high quality and is basically suitable for daily consumption.
In the case of Nutri-Score C, the yellow background color is striking. This is to indicate that the food has “good” ingredients in the sense of the Nutri-Score, but also so many substances of concern that the food is considered unbalanced.
The orange Nutri-Score D expresses that this is clearly an unbalanced food that you should not consume on a daily basis.
The red and final level of the Nutri Score warns of foods that may be harmful to the body and should therefore be omitted from the diet.
Problems with the Nutri-Score
The Nutri-Score was introduced in Germany in 2020 to help consumers quickly and easily distinguish healthy from unhealthy food when shopping.
But there are contradictions: Cheese, for example, regularly gets a Nutri-Score D or E because it contains a lot of fat. At the same time, however, cheese also contains a lot of calcium and magnesium – substances that our bodies urgently need. The same phenomenon occurs with butter.
In other words, the Nutri-Score leaves out important, healthy nutrients from the calculation.
Consumer advocates also criticize the fact that the Nutri-Score is a voluntary statement. Manufacturers of questionable foods can therefore omit it, which means that the Nutri-Score has not (yet) become a standard for foods in Germany.
What the Nutri-Score helps you with – and what not
The Nutri-Score can help you with this: The Nutri-Score can make it easier for you to make an initial, superficial assessment when buying packaged foods.
The Nutri-Score does not help you: Unfortunately, the Nutri-Score does not relieve you of the task of actively and consciously dealing with healthy nutrition, as it fails with some products by leaving essential substances out of the calculation. However, the score is constantly being developed and refined.
Haltungsformen (Types of Farming)
The 4 types of farming in Germany describe how animals were kept and fed. You can recognize the farming methods as numbers on the packaging of meat products.
Haltungsform 1: Stallhaltung
Here, the absolute minimum requirements for keeping animals apply. Here, the animals are kept cramped in a few square meters, often without daylight and without fresh air. Often the animals are also tethered and get feed with genetic engineering.
Haltungsform 2: StallhaltungPlus
Here, the conditions are somewhat better than in stall husbandry: a little more space and so-called occupational material such as straw make the animals’ existence slightly easier. Fresh air and daylight are not standard at this level either, and GM food is also used.
Haltungsform 3: Außenklima
This type of housing obliges animal owners to provide their animals with access to fresh air. This can be ensured, for example, by a covered run or by a barn with an open side. In addition, the feed must be free of genetic engineering.
Haltungsform 4: Premium
The highest form of husbandry allows the animals to roam outdoors (pigs permanently, cattle approx. 200 days per year, turkeys and broilers for at least 1/3 of their lifetime) and also, as in form of husbandry 3, feed without genetic engineering. In addition, at least 20% of the feed must come from the own region. In addition, bedding such as sand, peat or straw for occupation is part of the standard inventory in the barn.
Where the Haltungsform helps you – and where not
The label of the farming method helps you: The label of the farming method allows you to buy meat, where you are informed with high probability about the conditions under which the animals were kept and fed.
The indication of the farming method does not help you: Unfortunately, the indication of the farming method does not reveal anything about the transport, the slaughter and the health of the animals. Thus, as a consumer, you cannot be sure that the animals have not been crammed together for mass transport, for example, simply by stating the type of farming.
Eco-labels help consumers identify whether a product has been produced in an ecologically sustainable manner.
You’ll find the following eco-labels on food products with corresponding standards. We explain what the seals mean.
The organic seal tells you that this food – be it animal or vegetable – has been produced according to organic standards. Among other things, this means that animals have been fed only organically produced feed without the addition of antibiotics or so-called performance enhancers. Performance enhancers provide improved nutrient absorption in the digestive organs of animals, causing them to gain weight faster while saving feed.
In agriculture, the Bio seal stands for organic farming, i.e. the avoidance of pesticides; furthermore, no chemical fertilizers and no genetic engineering are used.
The organic seal is a voluntary label that organic producers can use as long as they can prove that they meet the standards.
EU Bio logo
Unlike the organic label, the EU organic logo is mandatory for pre-packaged organic foods that meet EU organic standards. Furthermore, the control number of the organic inspection body must be clearly displayed together with the logo. The EU organic logo guarantees that the product is free of genetic engineering and that no synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides have been used in agriculture. In the case of animal products, the EU organic logo stands for animal welfare.
Vegetarian & Vegan
For those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is important to be able to check food for these criteria. These internationally known seals help with this. They ensure that products are free of animal ingredients such as gelatine. This also applies to any additives.
The Fair Trade seal stands for the fact that food has been produced under fair conditions. Fair conditions are among other things the renunciation of child labor as well as humane regulated working conditions. The fair trade seal thus shows that the food is harvested or produced and delivered without exploitation.
There are many other seals to help you with your purchase decision, including the “Ohne Gentechnik” seal, the “FÜR MEHR TIERSCHUTZ” seal or “NEULAND”. These are voluntarily applicable by the industry.
What the seals help you with – and what not
The seals help you to do this: Similar to the Nutri-Score, the seals give you an orientation when buying food. In particular, the EU organic logo and the organic seal indicate that the producer of the food has been regularly checked for strict standards.
However, the seals do not help you: Critics complain that the criteria for the seals are too lax. Particularly in the case of animal husbandry, the conditions would in fact hardly differ from those of factory farming. They also criticize the fact that factors such as the length of time animals are transported or the exact origin of the products cannot be determined beyond doubt.
In the case of the Fair Trade label, the term “fair” is a major point of criticism, as it is neither protected nor clearly defined. For example, the prices paid to coffee and cocoa farmers would be nowhere near enough to lift them out of poverty.
Many other seals are voluntary and serve partly pure advertising purposes. So seals do not give you a 100% guarantee that the food has actually been produced in an ecologically sustainable and fair way.
Eating sustainably: Include multiple factors
If you want to eat healthily and sustainably, you have to deal with the subject intensively, actively and consciously. That’s the “bad” news. The good news is that you can maximize your chances of sustainable, healthy consumption by taking the various factors into account in aggregate:
- Farming Method Statement
- Organic & fair trade label
- Press reports or reports
- Reports on the website of the Verbraucherzentrale
Here’s another tip: If you want to be sure to buy ecologically sustainable food, avoid supermarkets and buy food regionally and seasonally from farmers in your area. You can also order fruit and vegetable boxes from many of them. In this way, you can buy fairly produced and healthy food even in an unmanageable, globalized industry. We wish you lots of fun and enjoyment!
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