Importantly, simple labels seem to work as well for the less health conscious and lower-educated, and across countries. Findings also show the importance of endorsement of the label by an international or national organisation in the area of nutrition and health.
The authors further recommend that a simple nutrition label should complement more detailed back-of-pack labelling, such as Guideline Daily Amounts. Gerda Feunekes adds, “in order to help and not confuse consumers it is important to prevent a multitude of different labelling formats. Therefore such a label should be cross-industry and even cross-country”.
“Front-of-pack labels can be a powerful tool in enabling consumers to select healthy options,” says health behaviour expert Hans Brug, professor at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam. “A simple logo such as the Choices stamp provides an interpretation of the overall healthiness of a food or beverage, therefore leaving little room for misinterpretation by consumers. With more complex systems, such as traffic lights or Guideline Daily Amounts, consumers still need to weigh the information provided.”
“The review for EUFIC performed autumn 2006 also indicated a strong interest of consumers in nutrition and health. Consumers like the idea of simplified front-of-pack information and understand the most common signposting formats,“ Klaus Grunert, Professor of Marketing at Aarhus School of Business and Director of MAPP adds. “Yet we have next to no insight into how labelling information is or will be used in a real world shopping situation. Therefore the shopping basket exercise used by Feunekes et al. is an interesting exercise.”
Professor Jaap Seidell, chairman of the Choices International Scientific Committee, reiterates the importance of the criteria underlying a simple nutrition label to be set by independent scientists. “For Choices, criteria are evaluated regularly by an independent group of eminent scientists who include the latest available research. Additionally effects of the Choices Programme on consumers and producers are monitored so we can measure the effects on public health.”
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