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Health and nutrition labels may have negative impact on taste expectation: Study

23-Feb-2012

Excessive information on health claims on food packaging is perceived as off-putting by consumers, and can have a negative influence on the perception of sensory characteristics, say researchers.

The study – published in Food Quality and Preference – reveals that consumers are greatly influenced by the labelling claims highlighted on the front of food packaging, particularly nutrition claims.

Led by Susana Fiszman of the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology, Spain, the researchers reported that consumers labelling of biscuits as ‘non-sugar’ biscuits raised negative expectations of the product and were associated with people with sugar metabolism disorders. Comparison of two tasting sessions also found that the information clearly had a negative influence on the perception of hedonic sensory characteristics, said the researchers.

“The objective of this study was to investigate consumers’ perceptions of the package and the expectations raised by nutritional and health claims and the nutrition panel, among other cues – and their influence on the sensory perception of enriched and reduced-calorie biscuits,” explained Fiszman and her team.

“The information on the biscuit packaging had a strong influence on the consumers’ perceptions,” they revealed.

“Participants’ perceptions were greatly modified when the biscuits were tasted,” added Fiszman, who noted that manufacturers “should be aware of these differences, as it would be dangerous if positive consumer expectations were disconfirmed.”

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