EU study questions consumer use of nutrition labels

Posted by Josette Dunn on 15th October 2010

UK shoppers understand nutrition labels on food products but may not be motivated enough to use them to buy healthier products, an EU study has claimed.

supermarket shopping

A survey conducted by Aarhus University in Denmark and the European Food Information Council showed that more than eight in ten UK consumers could understand GDA and traffic-light labels, as well as a hybrid of both systems.

However, the study claimed that just 27% of shoppers used the information on the labels when buying food.

“While levels of understanding nutrition information may be explained by demographic factors, the study’s authors found that the only variable having a direct effect on use of nutrition information in the store was interest in healthy eating. Across six food categories studied, the main reason cited for choosing a particular product was taste, not healthy eating,” the EUFIC said.

The EUFIC, which receives from industry and the EU, said the report’s authors argued that too much focus had been given to labelling and not to what motivated people to eat healthily.

“Only when labelling policy is embedded in a broader nutrition policy that uses multiple instruments to increase interest in healthy eating can both understandability and use of nutrition information on food labels be expected to increase,” the authors said.

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