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Legitimacy of Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labels: Controversy Over the Deployment of the Nutri-Score in Italy

Morgane Fialon (), Lydiane Nabec and Chantal Julia
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Morgane Fialon: Université Sorbonne Paris Nord
Lydiane Nabec: Université Paris-Saclay
Chantal Julia: Université Sorbonne Paris Nord

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Abstract: Background: Front-of-pack nutrition labels (FoPLs) aim at increasing transparency and consumers' awareness of the nutritional composition of pre-packed food products in order to improve the nutritional quality of their food choices. Nevertheless, the legitimacy of the Nutri-Score - the FoPL officially adopted in France and several other European countries - is subject to both technical and political controversy, particularly in Italy. In this study, we investigated how and by whom the legitimacy of the Nutri-Score, recognized by several institutional authorities, could be deconstructed within a specific system of norms, values and beliefs among Italian stakeholders. Methods: A netnography completed with qualitative interviews with eight Italian and French nutrition and public health experts were carried out to highlight the dimensions (pragmatic, normative and cognitive) in which the Nutri-Score's legitimacy is being challenged among the stakeholders involved in FoPLs' implementation in Italy. The degree of influence and the position of these stakeholders on the debate around the Nutri-Score were assessed through the Stakeholder Theory (SHT), using their respective level of power, legitimacy and urgency. Furthermore, we compared the Italian and the French contexts on the issue. Results: The direct implication of political parties and media outlets in framing the Italian debate around Nutri-Score as well as the high influence of corporate unions, led to a different political outcome than in France. Results also show that the deconstruction of the legitimacy of the Nutri-Score in Italy pertained mainly to its pragmatic dimension according to the Italian public health experts. Nevertheless, its two other dimensions (normative and cognitive) are also questioned by high-influence stakeholders. Conclusion: Due to the limited mobilization of scientific expertise over the issue, the debate in Italy stayed centered around the "attack" of the Nutri-Score to the Italian way of life, mixing up concepts such as Made in Italy products and the Mediterranean diet.

Keywords: Front-of-Pack Nutri-Score Stakeholder Theory Italy Legitimacy; Front-of-Pack; Nutri-Score; Stakeholder Theory; Italy; Legitimacy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-02
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Published in International journal of health policy and management, 2022, 10 (9), pp.2209. ⟨10.34172/ijhpm.2022.6127⟩

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DOI: 10.34172/ijhpm.2022.6127

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