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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Mar;48(3):248-56. doi: 10.1080/10408390701286058.

Consumer perceptions of graded, graphic and text label presentations for qualified health claims.

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International Food Information Council, Washington, DC, USA.


On December 18, 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the Consumer Health Information for Better Nutrition Initiative. The initiative's goal is to make available more and better information about conventional foods and dietary supplements to help Americans improve their health and reduce risk of disease by making sound dietary decisions. It included a rating system to assess the "weight of the publicly available evidence." It assigns one of four ranked levels to the claim thus resulting in qualified health claims. Two phases of research were conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. Qualitative research to assess consumer understanding, vocabulary, and familiarity with claims helped with the design and orientation of the second quantitative research phase. The quantitative phase employed a Web-based survey. The claim formats included: report card graphic, report card text, embedded claim text, point-counterpoint, structure/function claim, and nutrient content claim. Respondents were asked to rate the product for perceived strength of scientific evidence provided to support the claim, and questions about the product's perceived healthfulness, quality, safety, and purchase intent. Consumers found it difficult to discriminate across four levels and showed inclination to project the scientific validity grade onto other product attributes. Consumers showed preference for simpler messages.

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