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Clean-label or choice-blindness: Does ingredient information really make a difference?

The study, published in Appetite, tested the how much attention consumers actually pay to ingredient information on food packaging – and whether this information plays a role in the way consumers evaluate the naturalness of a food. The study found that consumers pay ‘much less’ attention to ingredient lists than self-reported preferences suggest – concluding that the trend for ‘clean labels’ that contain few additives may not actually have a large impact on consumers evaluation of how natural foods are. Led by Tracy Cheung from Utrecht University, and in partnership with researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Lund University, the team noted that consumers often report preferring natural products and assume that products based on natural ingredients or without additives are healthier. “In response food manufacturers have spent substantial efforts in tailoring the presentation of ingredient list information on food packaging with the underlying assumption that consumers infer the ‘naturalness’ of a food product by its ingredients,” wrote the team – who noted that policy makers have similarly focused on providing objective information about the naturalness of ingredients in food products. “Nonetheless, the effect that ingredient list information has on consumers remains unclear, as there is a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating that consumers actually prefer products with more ‘natural’ ingredients,” added Cheung and her colleagues – who were commissioned by Unilever R&D Vlaardingen. You can read the full article HERE