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Helping People Understand Confusing Food Label Claims Related to How Food is Grown or Processed

      Objective: To reduce confusion and help individuals understand current food label claims about how food is grown or processed within a food system.
      Target Audience: Consumers and consumer educators.
      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale: In a prior research study, 63.7% of respondents in our state (n = 1,208) identified food labels as their major food information source. Unfortunately, there is confusion about the meaning of some label claims about how food is grown or processed (i.e. “natural”) within the food system (Consumer Reports National Research Center, 2015; International Food Information Council Foundation, 2017).
      Description: A PowerPoint, “What's on a Food Label?” was created to address not only food labeling basics (Nutrition Facts Label, ingredient listings, etc.) but also, many current, confusing claims (i.e. claims about natural, hormones, and GMOs). It was available for download from a webpage, and could be viewed as an online slideshow on the webpage and on a separate national slide-hosting service. Additionally, an online quiz focusing on confusing claims was created. These materials were promoted via national and state electronic mailing lists and social media.
      Evaluation: After the materials were placed on the internet, the slideshow was viewed 3,399 times; the quiz webpage, 1,433 times; and the PowerPoint, 1,576 times (October 4 through December 31, 2017). Fifty-four individuals completed a short feedback form on the webpages; 93% learned something new or reinforced something they already knew. Sample comments included: “Thank you for sharing this! I plan to use it in my food science class!” “I will be showing it to consumers!” “Concise and full of info, encouraging one to read the labels and question the advertising.”
      Conclusions and Implications: As nutrition educators, part of our programming should include helping people become more knowledgeable about food label claims that address how food is grown or processed within our food systems.
      Funding: None.

      Supplementary Data

      The following is the supplementary data to this article: