Product Criteria

The Choices nutrition criteria are based on international dietary guidelines from the World Health Organization, are category-specific and take into account the levels of saturated and trans fatty acids, added sugar and salt of foods and beverages. In some categories, dietary fibre or energy is also taken into account. The criteria can be used as a benchmark for product reformulation, healthy product offerings and positive front-of-pack labelling. The development of the criteria is described in a scientific publication by Roodenburg et. al. in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011).  


The key principles of the criteria are:

  • Based on sound, scientific evidence;
  • Applicable to all foods and beverages*;
  • Easy to implement;
  • Applicable anywhere in the world.

*excluded are alcoholic beverages, supplements, food products prescribed under medical supervision, and food for infants (<1 year-old).

International criteria

The international criteria are the blueprint for national criteria. They are periodically reviewed by the independent International Scientific Committee, while the national Scientific Committees review applicability in a specific country. The approach used by the Scientific Committees to evaluate the product criteria can be read here. An explanation of the 2015 product criteria revision can be found here.

National criteria

National criteria have been developed for use in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Belgium, based on the International Criteria. Mexico has developed national criteria based on the international criteria.

Download all criteria

To access the criteria below, visit this webpage

  • Currently used international Choices criteria 2016
  • Currently used national Choices criteria: Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Nigeria.

Generic criteria

Generic criteria for each category of food products are derived from the WHO recommendations for a daily diet (see below). The generic criteria are somewhat less stringent than the WHO-recommendations because diets consist of many food products, not all of which contain saturated fat, trans fat, sodium or added sugar. Ultimately, the total daily intake of food products should be in line with the recommendations of (inter)national dietary authorities. This has been verified with a model study on average food intake by Roodenburg et al. (2013).

Nutrient WHO/FAO recommendations Generic criteria
Saturated fat 10 en% 13 en% or 1.1g/100g
Trans fat 1 en% 1.3 en% or 0.1g/100g
Sodium 1 mg/kcal1 1.3 mg/kcal
Added sugar 10 en% 13 en% or 2.5g/100g
Dietary fibre 1.3 mg/kcal2 1.3 g/100 kcal

1 Based on 2 g/day, calculated from the energy recommendation for women = 2000 kcal/d.
2 Based on 25 g/day, calculated from the energy recommendation for women = 2000 kcal/d.

Choices Programme Copyright © 2019