Discriminating nutritional quality of foods using the 5-Color nutrition label in the French food market: consistency with nutritional recommendations

Published on October 7, 2015

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Open Food Facts

Open Food Facts répertorie les produits alimentaires du monde entier. Les informations sur les aliments (photos, ingrédients, composition nutritionnelle etc.) sont collectées de façon collaborative et mises à disposition de tous et pour tous usages dans une base de données ouverte, libre et…

2 datasets
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  • alimentation
  • food
  • nutrition


Food and agriculture





Authors: Chantal Julia, Pauline Ducrot, Sandrine Péneau, Valérie Deschamps, Caroline Méjean, Léopold Fézeu, Mathilde Touvier, Serge Hercberg and Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot


Our objectives were to assess the performance of the 5-Colour nutrition label (5-CNL) front-of-pack nutrition label based on the Food Standards Agency nutrient profiling system to discriminate nutritional quality of foods currently on the market in France and its consistency with French nutritional recommendations.


Nutritional composition of 7777 foods available on the French market collected from the web-based collaborative project Open Food Facts were retrieved. Distribution of products across the 5-CNL categories according to food groups, as arranged in supermarket shelves was assessed. Distribution of similar products from different brands in the 5-CNL categories was also assessed. Discriminating performance was considered as the number of color categories present in each food group. In the case of discrepancies between the category allocation and French nutritional recommendations, adaptations of the original score were proposed.


Overall, the distribution of foodstuffs in the 5-CNL categories was consistent with French recommendations: 95.4 % of ‘Fruits and vegetables’, 72.5 % of ‘Cereals and potatoes’ were classified as ‘Green’ or ‘Yellow’ whereas 86.0 % of ‘Sugary snacks’ were classified as ‘Pink’ or ‘Red’. Adaptations to the original FSA score computation model were necessary for beverages, added fats and cheese in order to be consistent with French official nutritional recommendations.


The 5-CNL label displays a high performance in discriminating nutritional quality of foods across food groups, within a food group and for similar products from different brands. Adaptations from the original model were necessary to maintain consistency with French recommendations and high performance of the system.

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