Over the last few decades, researchers have immersed themselves in studying the impact of food labels.
Food scientists, psychologist, and agriculture experts conducting research at universities have recognized for years the importance of food label information and its impact on purchasing behavior and healthy living.
Take an older study as an example. Decades ago Julie Caswell and Daniel Padberg, researchers at the University of Massachusetts and Texas A&M published an article that called for clearer food labeling.
They argued that from a variety of perspective, food labels were a primary end-point piece of information in the healthy food shopping puzzle—the one place that people know they can turn to get good information about what they are putting into their body.
The problem? Food marketers know how to use food labels to influence buying behaviors. They argued that regulators needed to revise food labeling practices, regulating them to account for both purchaser behavior and the marketing strategies of the food companies.
So, how far have we come in the last few years? How has food labeling changed?
Consider a recent study conducted in Greece—one that argues that “nutrition knowledge has a strong effect on general label use, degree of use, and on use of nutrient content concerning fat, ingredients, and vitamins.”
What does that mean? To these researchers it means that label use is directly tied to how much nutrition knowledge you have.
Food marketers know this. They know that not everyone is a nutrition expert. Despite the regulations to the food labeling industry we’ve seen in the last decade—recommendations spurred on by studied like the one we referenced at the beginning of this article—things don’t appear to be that much better.