Projects per year
Background/Objectives: Nutrition labels are potentially a major instrument for enabling consumers to make healthier food choices, but current insights into how nutrition labels are used by consumers in real-world shopping situations are limited, making the science-based formulation of new labelling policies and the evaluation of existing ones difficult. The objective of the European Union-funded project Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life (FLABEL) is to determine how nutrition labelling can affect dietary choices, consumer habits and food-related health issues. Subjects/Methods: A wide range of qualitative and quantitative consumer research methods is being used, including physical auditing, label sorting tasks, eye tracking and electrodermal response, structured interviews and analysis of retail scanner data. Results: First results from the project show that, on the basis of consumer responses, nutrition labels available in Europe can be categorised as non-directive, semidirective or directive. Penetration of nutrition labelling on food and drink packages in five product categories seems widespread, with the nutrition table on the back of packs being the most prominent format (found on 84% of over 37 000 products audited in 28 countries). The higher penetration observed in Northern Europe is paralleled by more public health campaigns in this region alerting consumers to nutrition labelling systems and elements covered therein (for example, calories, salt and fat). Conclusions: The findings to date indicate that nutrition labelling is widespread in Europe but formats and level of detail may differ between countries and products. Upcoming studies within FLABEL will decipher whether and how the various elements of nutrition labels affect attention, liking, understanding, use and dietary choices, and what the implications are for stakeholders such as policy makers.