The Effect of Food Labels or Lack of

When present, food labels often have a “halo effect” on consumers. Their value is relative, subjective, and depends very much on consumers’ perception.

When asked to rate chocolate sandwich cookies, plain yogurt and potato chips on a scale of 1 to 9, volunteered participants in a study preferred organically produced version of these foods as opposed to the “regular” kinds. They believe that organic foods are low in fat, high in fiber, low in calories, more nutritious and, therefore, worth more money.

Actually, all food products used in this study were organic, but labeled differently as either “regular” or “organic” for purpose of the study.

On the other hand, I suspect that consumers will be less likely to purchase food products that they perceive to be harmful, regardless of whether or not a warning label exists.

Colors make foods more tempting.

On March 31, 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that foods containing dyes to enhance color don’t need warning labels. This announcement resulted from numerous debates on a possible link between chemical based food dyes and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

Due to lack of sufficient scientific evidence, FDA is not ready to impose a warning label on artificial food colorings. Regardless, as consumers and responsible parents, are you willing to continue feeding your children food products that may or may not cause them to exhibit undesirable behaviors?