Makers of many of France's traditional and most revered foods, including Roquefort and other cheeses, are up in arms over an EU plan to label all foods with a grading system called Nutri Secure that rates them on public health criteria.
The associations representing many of the foods complain that they are getting poor grades for making a product whose formula and methods are fixed by law and tradition and cannot be changed. The system was originally created by the French government and adopted by the EU; as of last January it's required in all food advertising.
The results can be bizarre: a glass of organic fruit juice can get a C because of its sugar content, while a diet soda was rated B. Roquefort cheese got the lowest mark, an E, while a slightly less salty cheese got a D. A traditional pork dish that contains only pork, salt and pepper was downrated because of fats.
Proponents of the system argue that its intent is to focus attention on foods with better ingredients, primarily industrially-made foods, and that it is a good system for that. Some of the artisanal producers agree, but believe it should not cover their products. With regional elections coming up in June and a presidential election next year, it's already become a political issue.