- Food-allergic consumers’ labelling preferences: A cross-cultural comparison
- European Journal of Public Health
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam School of Economics Research Institute (ASE-RI)
Background: Recent changes in European food safety legislation have resulted in the implementation of statutory requirements regarding the traceability and labelling of 12 food allergens. This article describes research conducted to establish if current food labelling practices are perceived to be adequate by food-allergic consumers, and whether further policy changes need to be implemented in order to optimize consumer protection.
Methods: A total of 40 food-allergic consumers were recruited in both the Netherlands and Greece. Participants were people suffering from one or more of the three most common food-allergies, milk, egg, and/or peanut or tree nut. In a retail environment, participants were given a list of 15 potentially problematic food products which they were asked to buy as if for their own household. The participants were observed during the course of product selection and questioned about specific problems they experienced, as well as information preferences for food allergy information.
Results: Participants reported many problems linked to the readability of the label (e.g. font size, contrast). Not all packages contained relevant allergy information, and many participants reported that the ingredients list was insufficient for their needs. Personal experience of particular products was an important factor in the selection process. Dutch participants reported frustration regarding frequent changes in recipes of products available in the supermarket.
Conclusions: In general, food-allergic consumers were not satisfied with the current labelling practices. Information was thought to be unclear or insufficient, which resulted in personal stress and feelings of insecurity. Further research is needed to identify how best allergy information might be provided.
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