GoCoCo Scoring

GoCoCo gives food products a score from 0 to 10. The scale is a reflection of the nutritional value of each product. Thus, 0 is the worst and 10 is the best.

The scoring methodology that we apply is our own. However, it is based on the application of existing scales and scientific studies that are especially recognized for their usefulness and rigor.

  • Red bubble - not recommended. GoCoCo does not recommend these products. The less, the better!
  • Yellow bubble - there are better options. GoCoCo accepts these options, but there are better alternatives.
  • Green bubble - recommended. GoCoCo recommends you prioritize these options

To ensure its independence and reliability, we have developed our scoring methodology in collaboration with Juan Revenga, dietician-nutritionist and biologist, and one of the most recognized nutrition experts in Spain.

To obtain the score, we apply 3 filters:

  • The first comes from the work of the World Health Organization (WHO), The Nutrient Profile Model, which determines 17 categories of products and classifies them based on their nutritional profile.
  • The second is the NOVA system, developed by a team of Brazilian scientists directed by Carlos Augusto Monteiro, which classifies foods based on their degree of processing. The definition of ultra-processed food, which currently serves as a world reference for scientists, comes from the NOVA system.
  • The third is the Chilean warning system, which takes into account certain “red lines” applied to 4 variables: - amount of calories, added sugars, added saturated fat, and added salt. It is considered one of the best and most efficient labeling systems for products to transparently inform the consumer. 

Stage One: The W.H.O Nutrient Profile Model

We follow the W.H.O NPM (Europe Nutrient Profile Model). Specifically, the WHO issues advice on the advisability of carrying out marketing and communication campaigns aimed at children for a series of foods and/or categories of specific products. For this reason, the model classifies foods into 17 categories.

Nutrient profiling is “the science of classifying or ranking foods according to their nutritional composition for reasons related to preventing disease and promoting health”. Nutrient profiling provides a means of differentiating between foods and non-alcoholic beverages that are more likely to be part of a healthy diet from those that are less likely (notably those foods that may contribute to excess consumption of energy, saturated fats, trans fats, sugar or salt).

  • WHO “NO” Group: For those products/foods in which, based on their nature and characteristics, the W.H.O recommends that no promotions (advertising) be made to children.
  • WHO “YES” Group: For those products/foods in which, based on their nature and characteristics, the W.H.O does not establish any precautions regarding the promotion (advertising) of their consumption  aimed at children.

At GoCoCo we believe in the W.H.O guidelines, but there is one point where we differ. We have decided to remove the limit values for fat in dairy products, as there is no clear evidence that skimmed dairy products are healthier... And there are findings showing that whole dairy consumption is associated with a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease events.

Stage Two: The NOVA classifications system

We apply the calculation of the NOVA classification system. This method classifies foods into 4 groups based on their processing:

  • NOVA 1: corresponds to unprocessed or minimally processed foods.
  • NOVA 2: Applies to processed culinary ingredients. Items classified in this group are products that come from Group 1 by crushing, pressing, or grinding, etc. and are typically used for cooking and seasoning. NOVA 2 products are rarely consumed alone (for example sugar, vegetable oils, salt, vinegar, flour, etc.).
  • NOVA 3: Refers to processed foods. they are normally NOVA 1 products that have been combined with NOVA 2 products (salts, sugar, oil, etc.). It is common for these products to contain between two, but no more than five ingredients.
  • NOVA 4: Corresponds to ultra-processed products. They are usually industrial preparations with more than five ingredients, many of which are impossible to find in a domestic kitchen. They can and usually are subject to unnatural processes such as hydrogenation, extrusion, milling, etc., and are usually foods that are the subject of intense marketing and advertising campaigns (well above the products in the rest of the NOVA categories).

Based on this classification, and for practical purposes to obtain the score, GoCoCo performs the following:

  • NOVA Group 4: Corresponds to ultra-processed foods. Products in this group receive the worst consideration within our algorithm.
  • NOVA Group 2: They are culinary ingredients and GoCoCo does not issue a nutritional assessment of the products within this group.
  • NOVA Group 1-3: Are the highest rated foods and products in our algorithm.

Following these first two steps, we apply the following “rule” (and its exception):

All products will receive a score that corresponds to the possible combination of results between WHO and NOVA systems:

  • Foods present in WHO Group NO + NOVA Group 4 = 4 points
  • Foods present in WHO Group NO + NOVA Group 1-3 = 5 points
  • Foods present in WHO Group YES + NOVA Group 4 = 6 points
  • Foods present in WHO Group YES + NOVA Group 1-3 = 10 points

Exception: GoCoCo will not offer a score for products in the following categories:

  • Any products not considered in the WHO model. That is: alcoholic beverages, children’s products, food supplements.
  • Any product that belongs to the NOVA group 2. Such as processed culinary ingredients such as sugar, vegetable oils, salt, vinegar, flour, etc.

Stage three: The warning system

This system establishes a series of levels for key nutrients. from these levels, this system proposes to include in the product as many “warning stamps” as appropriate if it is a food:

  • high in added sugars
  • high in saturated fat
  • high in added sodium
  • high in calories
solids liquids table with high in addded sugars, high in added saturated fat, high in calorie, high in added sodium

In our case, GoCoCo’s algorithm continues to outline its final grade and subtracts 1 point from the score that we had already obtained in “the rule” based on:

  • If a product/food doesn't generate a warning, no points are deducted.
  • If a product/food generates 1 warning = 1 point is deducted.
  • If a product/food generates 2 warnings = 2 points are deducted.
  • If a product/food generates 3 warnings = 3 points are deducted.
  • If a product/food generates 4 warnings = 4 points are deducted.

Why our scoring system only subtracts?

Our scoring system begins with a 10, and we subtract points based on the information you see in the warnings. Rewarding products based only on an isolated nutrient is a reductionist view of nutrition, called nutritionism.

Thinking about good or bad nutrients is playing into the hands of the food industry and can lead us to make our food choices based on biased slogans. Have you ever seen products like yogurts with high protein and a lot of flavorings, sugary cereals rich in fiber, margarines with low quality fats but with added vitamins...? This type of marketing confuses and distances us from the true nature of food.

When we eat a piece of fruit we don't have to worry about its nutrients to know if it is healthy, that is why we recommend having a complete vision of food based on its nature and not only on its nutrients.

As the famous journalist Michael Pollan says: the nutritional value of food is "greater than the sum of its parts."