A traffic light for food?

The Mediterranean diet and the limitations of the traffic light label

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy and other countries on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. In 2020, it was recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage of humanity because it is not simply food but a set of traditions and a symbol of cultural identity.

This Diet was chosen by nutritionists as the best way of eating because, in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, life expectancy is among the highest in the world and the risks of diet-related diseases such as ischemic hearth disease, some cancers and other chronic diseases are among the lowest, despite of smoking, low socio-economic level and low health care. The Mediterranean Diet consists on plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Olive oil is the main source of added fat.

Fish, seafood, dairy and poultry are included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are eaten in low quantity, from 0 to 4 eggs are consumed per week and wine is drunk in moderation too.

In the last few weeks, traffic lights on food have been used. The traffic light system labelling is very simple: red indicates food to avoid, green a healthy food, while orange invites you to use the product in moderation. The problem is that many products such as cheese, ham, honey, jam and fruit compote, etc… would all get a ‘red’ label.” They are healthy food, just like extra virgin olive oil, which is the healthiest oil that also fights cholesterol or Parmesan which is a very healthy cheese.

The Mediterranean Diet is known for the health and well being it brings us and the “traffic light” labelling system indicates products such as Prosciutto and cheese as “more dangerous for the health” than some light drinks.

This label has been adopted in many countries such as Great Britain or France but we say: NO TO THE TRAFFIC LIGHT LABEL AND YES TO THE HEALTHIEST MEDITERRANEAN DIET PRODUCTS.

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Francesco D’Auria, Giuseppe Chillemi, Giuseppe Panebianco


II A – Furci Siculo