About Our Health Score

Published on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 12:30

What is the FoodFacts Health Score?

It’s a holistic approach.

Instead of just looking at a few numbers on a nutrition label, our score takes into account all aspects of a product, including nutritional content and ingredient quality. 

It’s unbiased.

Our score is a complex set of mathematical equations, which prevents any personal biases or prejudices from impacting the score.  A product’s taste is not a consideration, and no manufacturers have an input.  We also don’t score comparatively to other products; it’s not a ranking system. 

It’s about complete nutrition.

Some products look like they should earn a high score because they are low fat or low in calories, but that’s not enough for our FoodFacts score.  We also look to see how much nutrition, such as fiber, vitamins and minerals, a product contains.  In other words, it’s not just that a product isn’t bad for you, it has to be proactively good for you as well to achieve a top score.  That’s another reason why we stress that a healthy, complete diet doesn’t have to be only A foods – even some lower scoring products can be part of a nutritious diet in moderation.

It works like this.

Our patent-pending  formula looks at aspects of the nutrition label and assigns a grade based on our nutrition department’s recommendations for that food group.  The item earns bonuses for vitamins and minerals, and loses points for controversial ingredients.

What’s the Report Card?

The Report Card offers an overview of some features of a product, but is not a complete guide to a product’s score.  For example, the Report Card will tell you that a product has added sugars, but this does not impact the score – it’s just another way for us to share information about an item with our members.  A simple tally of “good” or “bad” things about a product on the report card does not translate into the product’s score, because those “good” or “bad” things have different weights within the score.

What about allergens?

Our allergen icons are helpful tools for people who need to avoid certain foods, but containing an allergen does not negatively impact the score.  There are types of ingredients that do have an icon and also deduct points from a product, such as trans fat (hydrogenated oils), controversial ingredients (e.g. artificial flavors or preservatives), flavorings (e.g. artificial or “natural” flavors), and ingredients containing MSG or free glutamates (e.g. yeast extract or hydrolyzed proteins).

How should I use the FoodFacts Health Score?

The unique, patent-pending FoodFacts Health Score is a guideline to help our members navigate the often confusing world of ingredient lists and nutrition labels.  We stay on top of the research about controversial ingredients and hidden food risks to provide consumers with all of the information they need to make informed decisions about their nutrition.  As always, we do not provide medical advice and any questions about your personal nutrition or a product’s suitability for your needs should be discussed with a doctor or medical professional. 

What is the orange question mark icon?

That icon will now accompany any product on our site that does not have a full ingredients list due to the manufacturer's decision not to disclose it.  Click here to read more.

Have more questions? 

Browse our FAQ page to see if we’ve covered it there, or contact us.  If you disagree with a product’s score, let us know on the product page.  To read explanations about specific products, take a look at our Health Score Explanations forum page.  If you’re a food manufacturer, please click here.

Read more about how to use our health score in your everyday life here.