US: Majority of consumers read and use food labels

Grocery shopping is one of my favourite activities. I love perusing the aisles, checking out foods I’ve never seen before, and examining food labels. Almost automatically I flip over the package and take a gander at the food label, curious to see what is in my potential purchase.

It seems I am not alone in my label love. A recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration survey found that the majority of consumers read food labels, and are aware of the link between good nutrition and health.

The 2008 U.S. Health and Diet Survey of more than 2,500 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that, for the first time, more than half of those surveyed “often” read a label the first time they buy a product. Yet, while the number of consumers reading a food label the first time they buy a product has risen, consumers are skeptical of industry claims such as “low fat,” “high fiber,” or “cholesterol free” on the front of packages.

While not all shoppers are label lovers, the survey does indicate the opportunity to use food packaging as an information source for consumers. Placing warnings on food packages for susceptible populations is a way to get food safety messages to at risk populations.