Food Label Changes Eating Habits

Article excerpt

The new food label is turning a few heads--and, apparently, changing a few eating habits.

A survey of about 1,000 adult consumers last summer found that 44 percent had seen the new food label. A little more than half of those who had seen it said the label had changed their decision to buy or use a food for the first time, while more than one-fourth said it had led them to stop buying or using a food they regularly used.

Almost 70 percent cited fat content as the reason for the changes. The next most common reason, cited by about 20 percent, was sodium content.

The survey was conducted by Parkwood Research Associates for Prevention Magazine and Cable News Network (CNN). It was conducted about three months after new food labeling laws went into effect, May 8, 1994. On that day, nutrition information became mandatory for most packaged foods, and it had to be presented in a new format using a "Nutrition Facts" panel.

Of those who had seen the new label, 70 percent said the new format was "more clear and understandable" than the old one. Twenty percent said they liked the old one better.

A key part of the new format, "%Daily Values," was not well understood by respondents. While 80 percent of those who had seen the new label reported being familiar with the term, only about half actually understood its meaning, and nearly one-fourth couldn't correctly define it. …