Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are Front-of-Package Labels Misleading?

Food labels include a lot of information about packaged products and can often be very difficult to understand. Recently, fewer consumers have been using the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list and have been relying more on the overall impression of the package. A study was conducted using a focus group by Colorado State University to discuss the perception of packaging and the influence it has on product choice. Parents reported that they perceive foods with bright packaging, or characters, as less healthy and those with health claims, such as “natural”, and “realistic graphics” as more healthy choices. A trend was also seen in more well-known product brands. The well-known brands were found to create perceptions of health and trust. Participants admitted that they realize well-known brands, with realistic visuals, and health claims may not actually be healthier than other products. Yet, when they are in a hurry they will choose the healthier looking product. Looking at packaging and being aware of marketing techniques is a great starting place for choosing a healthy product, but the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list can provide more conclusive information.

For label reading tips please visit the following website: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm079449.htm

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