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Can J Public Health. 2013 Sep 19;104(5):e359-63.

Consumer perceptions of front-of-package labelling systems and healthiness of foods.

Author information

  • 1Dairy Farmers of Canada. nathalie.savoie@dfc-plc.ca.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of four different front-of-package (FOP) labelling systems on consumer perception and purchasing intent of food, and whether these systems help consumers select a balanced pattern of eating.

METHODS:

The four FOP labelling systems studied included two nutrient-specific systems ‒ the Traffic Light (TL) and the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) ‒ and two summary indicator systems ‒ NuVal(®) and My-5(®). Phase 1 was a small study with 36 participants to determine consumer understanding of the four FOP labelling systems and to inform the development of the questions for Phase 2, which consisted of a survey of 2,200 adults obtained through an online panel.

RESULTS:

Although the TL and GDA were rated similar to the Nutrition Facts table in terms of attributes, these FOP systems were considered more visually appealing. Consumers indicated that the numeric summary indicator systems did not provide sufficient information. Approximately half of the respondents indicated that the FOP systems would help them make healthier choices. However, due to the limitations of each, consumers often misinterpreted a food's healthiness compared to their baseline perceptions. Similarly, consumers' intent to purchase based on the FOP system did not show a consistent pattern.

CONCLUSION:

Although well received by consumers, FOP labelling systems can lead to confusion depending on perceived understanding of the system used. The nutrient-specific systems tend to be preferred by most consumers; however, the overall impact on selecting healthier eating patterns has yet to be demonstrated.

KEYWORDS:

Front-of-package labelling systems; consumer perceptions; intent to purchase

PMID:
24183175
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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