Nutritional score of meat products at retail in Serbia
Nutri-score is simplified front-of-pack nutrition labelling on packed food products, used in a broad international context to categorize food products into five colour/letter grades (best A to worst E) that reflect the foods’ nutritional quality. The labels serve as potential help for consumers to make healthier food choices and encourage food industries to improve the nutritional quality of the foods they produce. The aim of this study was to determine the nutritional scores and grades of meat products present on the Serbian retail market. Ultimately, this should point out to consumers the importance of proper nutrition and encourage the meat industry to adapt to new labelling requirements. During a two year period, 310 packaged locally-produced meat products were purchased at retail, graded according to the Nutri-score method and categorized into 13 ad hoc product groups. The results obtained showed that 82.5% of all examined meat products had nutritional scores that meant they were classified as unhealthy foods, while only 2.9% of meat products (these were fresh meat or minced meats) were classified as healthy foods. Of the total number of examined meat products, 41.5% were classified as grade E, 41% were classified as grade D, 13% received grade C, 1.6% received grade B, while only 2.9 % were classified as grade A. Sodium chloride was an especially burdensome parameter in 10 groups (77% of all products examined), while the presence of saturated fat was troublesome in 7 groups (54%) and high energy balance in 2 groups (15%). Serbian manufacturers are advised to implement new formulations and/or procedures in an effort to reduce these parameters in the meat products they produce.