The science on front-of-package food labels

1The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 2300 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA.
Public Health Nutrition (Impact Factor: 2.68). 03/2012; 16(3):1-10. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980012000754
Source: PubMed


OBJECTIVE: The US Food and Drug Administration and Institute of Medicine are currently investigating front-of-package (FOP) food labelling systems to provide science-based guidance to the food industry. The present paper reviews the literature on FOP labelling and supermarket shelf-labelling systems published or under review by February 2011 to inform current investigations and identify areas of future research. DESIGN: A structured search was undertaken of research studies on consumer use, understanding of, preference for, perception of and behaviours relating to FOP/shelf labelling published between January 2004 and February 2011. RESULTS: Twenty-eight studies from a structured search met inclusion criteria. Reviewed studies examined consumer preferences, understanding and use of different labelling systems as well as label impact on purchasing patterns and industry product reformulation. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that the Multiple Traffic Light system has most consistently helped consumers identify healthier products; however, additional research on different labelling systems' abilities to influence consumer behaviour is needed.

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Available from: Peggy J Liu, Apr 04, 2014
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    • "In the realm of food packaging, one proposal that continues to receive attention around the world is the implementation of a TLC system to highlight the nutritional contents of food relative to recommended guidelines (Gorton, Mhurchu, Chen, & Dixon, 2009; Grunert & Wills, 2007). A series of recent review papers have found a generally positive impact of TLC systems as a simplified approach to food labeling that can help consumers' understand nutritional information (e.g., Grunert & Wills, 2007; Hawley et al., 2013; Hersey, Wohlgenant, Arsenault, Kosa, & Muth, 2013; Lobstein & Davies, 2009). Research also indicates that people prefer TLC systems that help them categorize food in terms of its health quality (Pettigrew, Pescud, & Donovan, 2011), are more effective at recognizing healthier foods with a TLC label (Borgmeier & Westenhoefer, 2009), and are more likely to avoid foods that TLC systems highlight in red (Balcombe, Fraser, & Falco, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Government regulators and consumer packaged goods companies around the world struggle with methods to help consumers make better nutritional decisions. In this research we find that, depending on the consumer, a traffic light color-coding (TLC) approach to product labeling can have a substantial impact on perceptions of foods' health quality and food choice. Across 3 lab experiments and a field experiment, we find that TLC labels provide nondieters with an information processing cue that directly influences evaluations in a manner that is consistent with the "stop" and "go" logic behind the traffic light labels. In contrast, we find that dieters do not simply adopt the red, yellow, and green cues into their health quality evaluations. Instead, regardless of the color, the TLC approach increases the depth at which dieters process label information. Dieters tend to focus on the costs of consumption and, as a result, lower their health quality evaluations. In a field study, measuring actual behavior in a grocery store, health quality evaluations predicted consumption and consistent with the color coding of the labels nondieters consumed the most when they were presented with a predominantly green label. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied 06/2015; 21(3). DOI:10.1037/xap0000049 · 1.75 Impact Factor
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    • "La littérature révèle de nombreux problèmes de compréhension et d'usage de l'information nutritionnelle [8] [9] par les consommateurs. Concernant les formats utilisés, plusieurs études montrent que la préférence déclarée n'est prédictive ni de la compréhension ni de l'utilisation [10]. De plus, la première étape indispensable, et sans doute majeure, pour qu'un logo soit efficace, quels que soient sa forme ou son contenu, est qu'il soit vu par le consommateur dans le contexte d'un magasin complexe et déjà chargé d'informations et de sollicitations diverses[11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: La mise en place d’un système d’information nutritionnelle synthétique est envisagée pour orienter favorablement les achats alimentaires. Dans 2 supermarchés, pendant 10 semaines, pour 3 catégories (produits laitiers frais, plats cuisinés, snacking frais), les produits appartenant au meilleur tiers nutritionnel de leur catégorie ont été signalés par un logo positif, « le choix Vita+ », et ils ont bénéficié d’une campagne de communication in situ. L’analyse des achats des clients réguliers (clients porteurs de cartes de fidélité), enregistrés dans les 2 magasins tests et dans 2 magasins témoins, avant et pendant l’intervention, ainsi que l’année précédente, n’a mis en évidence aucun impact significatif de l’intervention sur les achats des produits signalés « le choix Vita+ ». Une étude qualitative a révélé le manque de visibilité de l’intervention face aux autres publicités et promotions, ainsi que l’incompréhension des clients face à un système d’information nutritionnelle, certes synthétique, mais partiel et par catégorie. L’étude souligne la difficulté d’évaluer l’impact de l’implantation d’un logo nutritionnel en conditions réelles, et donne quelques pistes sur les erreurs à ne pas commettre lors du développement d’un tel logo.
    Cahiers de Nutrition et de Diététique 01/2015; 48(1). DOI:10.1016/j.cnd.2014.12.005
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    • "The FDA's (April 6, 2011) menu labeling regulations suggest calorie information as the recommended nutrition labeling format on menus for all chain restaurants, despite the failure of research to show any effect of calorie labeling on food choices (Swartz, Braxton, and Viera 2011). One hopeful development, however, was a recent review study on front-of-package food labels which suggested that a " traffic light " labeling system was most effective in helping consumers identify healthier products, with red, green, and amber traffic-light symbols to indicate fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt levels according to recommendations (Hawley et al. 2013). These findings suggest that before FDA recommendations for the restaurant industry are formally established and implemented, further research is needed on the effectiveness of different labeling formats on restaurant menus. "
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    ABSTRACT: Using mobile tablet technology, this study compared menu selections by millennial-age respondents to test the effects of five different menu nutrition labeling formats for attractiveness, perceived influence, and actual influence on the students’ food choices. Labeling formats presented on an iPad involved combinations of numeric caloric values, traffic-light color coding, and percentage of daily intake presented as a graphic summary. Each participant was asked to select four courses from a fine-dining restaurant menu, and each was shown one of the five nutrition labeling formats (or no information at all). Although there was no significant difference in the calorie count for the six groups, the labeling format with traffic-light color coding combined with a graphic summary of the meal’s calorie count (compared with the daily recommended intake) received the highest attractiveness ranking. This attractive graphic format also showed a significant positive correlation to its perceived influence on food choices. Overall, participants in all labeling groups indicated a strong support for inclusion of nutrition information on restaurant menus using mobile tablet technology.
    Cornell Hospitality Quarterly 12/2014; online:1-10. DOI:10.1177/1938965514546371 · 0.88 Impact Factor
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