ITALY – Italian winemakers are pushing back against a proposal to add a black ‘F’ to all alcoholic drinks as a warning to consumers about the damaging effects of alcohol even in moderate amounts. 

They have termed the move as insulting and an “affront to science and the wine sector” adding that it would encourage an “anti-alcohol orientation” by European authorities.  

“Over the years, science has highlighted the importance of wine within a balanced diet,” Pietro Paganini, Founder and President of European think tank Competere said.  

He further noted that the Nutri-Score is a “arbitrary and misleading” labelling system that “tramples on” the rich social and economic heritage of Italy’s wine sector.  

Micaela Pallini, President of Italian wine federation Federvini, added that the move was an affront to the intelligence of consumers. 

She further termed the move a slap in the face for a sector that has represented, for centuries, not only economic wealth but above all a model of life and civilization. 

“Labelling a food or a drink in red, or even black as in our case, means to pillory and criminalize a product without associating it with the methods or occasions of consumption,” Pallini added.  

No alcohol consumption without health risks 

The European Parliament is planning to vote on a report from the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) which concluded that there is no alcohol consumption without health risks. 

“All alcoholic beverages are demonstrated, among them wine, to have a deleterious effect on health even low doses, especially for cancers,” Nutritionist Serge Hercberg said. 

In France, alcohol is responsible of 41,000 deaths yearly, with 16,000 linked to cancer. It is the first cause of hospitalization and the same for all European countries. 

Nutri-Score aims to educate not criminalize alcohol 

Nutri-Score supporters are however of the opinion that the score will help in educating the masses on the impact of alcohol on their health.  

“This does not mean that we say not to drink them or ban them,” Hercberg, one of the developers of the food labelling system, said. 

The warning, he said, was instead designed to “fight the current trivialization of alcohol consumption and the difficulties to understand the message that alcohol abuse is dangerous to health. 

European regulations currently mean alcoholic beverages containing more than 1.2% alcohol are not currently covered by the Nutri-Score.  

Hercberg explained the designers of Nutri-Score have proposed that all alcoholic beverages be marked with a black F reserved exclusively for beverages that contain alcohol even in small quantities.  

In order to properly inform consumers, he suggested the containers of all alcoholic beverages must indicate: the quantity in grams of alcohol and sugar, the number of calories and a black Nutri-Score F reserved for beverages containing alcohol even in small quantities.

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