The purpose of the Choices International criteria is to provide countries a basis to develop their national criteria as a basis for the implementation of a coherent set of food system actions. These could include both “carrot and stick” actions stimulating healthier diets, such as consumer guidance and education, standards for schools, reformulation, front-of-pack labelling, responsible marketing, responsible retailing and financial measures such as subsidies and taxes on healthy and less healthy products. Choices logo criteria identify the 10-20% best in class products per food category, a potential benchmark for “carrot” actions. A limitation of the logo criteria is that they cannot be used to identify the least healthy products as a benchmark for “stick” actions.
Based on the same principles as our logo criteria are based on (science-based, reflecting internationally accepted dietary guidelines, regularly reviewed and updated, based on existing products present in markets, based on key nutrients of public health concern, food group-specific, covering all food groups), the Choices International Scientific Committee is working on extending the criteria to multiple levels. Using a large international food composition database, the first step is to calculate cut-off levels at 4 levels, resulting in 5 compliance levels at 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100%. Then comparisons will be made with the current logo criteria and the regional WHO criteria for limitation of marketing to children. The criteria will be validated against a set of indicator foods (foods that are generally perceived as healthy, unhealthy or somewhere in the middle) from countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. As the final part of this validation process, Choices aims to seek comments on the (final) draft multi-level criteria through a public consultation on Choices’ website. An article describing the process and the resulting multi-level criteria will be submitted in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in mid-2021.