Scientific and legal approach
The scientific and legal approach has for 50 years been at the heart of the Institute’s evaluations procedures. Jury President Prof. Ir. Joseph Bessemans explains.
Depending on the type and characteristics of the food or drink products, we are doing one or more of the following examinations and analysis: sensory analysis by different trained professional panels, bacteriological and chemical analysis by certified laboratories. The laboratory results are compared with the label of the product.
Our scientific board verifies extensively the different aspects of the list of nutrients, the nutrition label, the nutrition and health claims, the description of the properties of the active substances which are highlighted and the utilisation notice.
Very much attention is paid to the analysis of the overall nutritional quality of the food products, because you can make a product that matches perfectly the legal rules of hygiene and labelling, but on a nutritional basis is unworthy. On the other hand you can make a product with a very high nutritional quality but if taste is not good the consumer doesn’t purchase it.
Not only the intrinsic quality (chemical, bacteriological, taste…..) of the product is assessed, but also how the producer communicates with the consumer. Monde Selection is convinced that to award a product with a bronze, silver, gold or grand gold quality award, both aspects, intrinsic quality and communication with the consumer, are important in the overall quality evaluation of the product.
Summarized, our judging committees will make judgements based on the following areas : taste, health, convenience, labelling, packaging, environmental friendliness and innovation. The weight given by the judging committees to the different areas and to the different criteria per area is functions of the product type.
The protection of the consumer's health is of course assured by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the different countries, this is not our mission, nevertheless at Monde Selection we want that the producer facilitates the choice of the consumer by providing information which is adequate, appropriate and substantiated by scientific evidence. Consumers need to have confidence that the information provided by the label on the packaging is derived from a reliable source. Of course, the information on the label must be correct and in accordance with law.
In general in our judgements about the labelling and utilisation notice, we have in mind the philosophy of the European Food Law which is, as far as we know, in good correspondence with a lot of non-European laws, such as for example the prescriptions of the Food and Drug Administration of the United States or the multiple laws of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan.
The European Directives and Regulations are very complex and we cannot expect from the non-European companies that they apply extensively and strictly the European Regulations, but we think that the labelling of a product must give the consumer the necessary information to make choices in full knowledge of the facts. Consulting the European Directives and Regulations could be a good inspiration source for you to optimise the quality of your labelling and the content of the explanatory leaflet.
Important websites about these aspects in the European Union are :
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/index.htm (Regulations and Directives), www.efsa.europa.eu (European Food Safety Authority) and http://ec.europa.eu/food/index_en.htm (integrated approach to food safety).
In these websites you can find the consolidated forms of different Directives and Regulations such as : the Directive 2000/13/EC of 20 March 2000 relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, the Directive 2002/46/EC of 10 June 2002 relating to food supplements, the Directive 90/496/EEC of 24 September 1990 on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs and the very important Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods.
Finally, we want to stress that at Monde Selection we try to follow up permanently the evolution of the legal prescriptions, the international standards and guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius, the tendencies in the food industry, the viewpoints of the professional organizations and, very important, the evolution of available scientific data. Consequently we readjust every year, if necessary and after thorough reflection, the criteria for judgement.
Furthermore, allow us to insist on the fact that our external jury members, chosen for their professional qualifications, ability, experience and integrity, are totally independent in their judgements.
This independency of the jury members and their commitment to the objectives and aims of our Institute are of capital importance to maintain the integrity of the selection process and assure the quality of our selections.
The Monde Selection board monitors all aspects of the selection operations from the registration and sample handling, sample storage, over the evaluation and ranking sheets, to the control of the consistency, completeness, credibility and internal coherence of the reporting and results. Finally it is, of course, the board of Monde Selection who is responsible for the validation of the final results.
Prof. Ir Joseph Bessemans