The labeling of food packaging carries crucial information on nutritional content and ingredients, and it can help consumers to make informed choices about their diets.
Previous studies by the FDA have indicated that the proportion of consumers that actually look at food labels decreased between 1994 and 2002, and younger people seem to be most prone to ignoring them. In 1994, 13% of consumers said they never looked at the label the first time they bought a food product, and no significant differences were seen between age groups. But by 2002, 19% said they never read the label – and amongst those under 35, 30% never looked.
These findings have led the FDA to propose a new voluntary study to be conducted via the internet. The aims are threefold:
· Identify attitudes and beliefs to do with health, diet and label usage.
· Determine relationships between these attitudes and beliefs, and demographics, and actual label use
· Look at the relevance of these attitudes between different demographics, to see whether there are different barriers to label use for different age groups.
The agency says it will use the findings to inform efforts to improve consumer understanding and use of food labels. It is expected that around 43,000 people would take part in the study. The architects divide the anticipated participants into four groups: Over 35s who report never using labels; over 35s who report regularly using labels; under 35s who report never using labels; and under 35s who report regularly using labels.
More information is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-20248.pdf
Aporte: Alejandra Lavín