Food allergic consumers' preferences for labelling practices: a qualitative study in a real shopping environment

Authors


Jantine Voordouw, Hollandseweg 1 bode 87, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands. E-mail: jantine.voordouw@wur.nl

Abstract

Food allergy is a chronic disease that can only be managed through avoidance of problematic proteins in the diet. Inappropriate communication about food allergens can cause stress and insecurity, which may have a negative impact on quality of life. The aim was to investigate whether information provided through current labelling practices meets the need of food allergic consumers. A total of 40 participants (20 adult food allergy suffers and 20 parents of food allergic children) were recruited from two different European countries (Greece and The Netherlands), and interviewed while shopping in a supermarket. Participants were asked to purchase 15 potentially problematic food items as if for their own household. Their information search behaviour was observed, and participants were questioned about their preferences for food allergen information provision. Participants reported experiencing problems associated with current food allergy information provision. It was reported that inappropriate use of fonts, colours and languages, application of precautionary labelling and lack of harmonization in labelling practices across countries can cause (un)necessary dietary restrictions for food allergic consumers. Research is needed to investigate the feasibility and implementation possibilities for new information delivery strategies and amendments to existing European labelling policy.

Ancillary