THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD LABELING FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Data was collected using a questionnaire that had two sections. The questionnaire was structured such that it had two sections; section one of the questionnaire contained respondent's background information and part two contained information on respondent's awareness of food labelling. 500 respondents filled the questionnaire whereby only 37% of the respondents claimed to know and put into proper use of the information contained on those labels. The research, therefore, suggests that educating consumers on the importance of making use of food labels, ensuring clear food labels on the packaging material and helping consumer improve their nutritional knowledge can increase the usage of food labels. Keywords: Nutritional information; public health; food labels; consumer Acknowledgements My sincere thanks must first go to Senior Lecturers Peter Cross, Peter Pelham, without whose advice, time and ever-critical eye, this dissertation would still be a work in endless progress.
Introduction 5 AIMS, OBJECTIVES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS 7 III. AIM 8 IV. OBJECTIVES 8 V. RESEARCH QUESTION AND HYPOTHESIS 8 Chapter two 9 VI. Literature Review 11 Chapter three 26 VII. References 45 XVIII. APPENDICES 51 THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD LABELING FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENT Chapter one Introduction The current globalization of correct food labeling and improvements in food science and innovation has brought about development in the utilization of labeling pre-packaged food. Reading food label information is essential to help make educated decisions on which food we purchase (Sunelle et al. Food labeling has been linked to diet and health and the increasing medical costs in the UK. The labels should contain information like serving size, service per container, amount of calories available, and recommended calories intake among other details. Studies have shown that a very low number of individuals consume home-made foods and this disparity brings about a circumstance in which individuals assume liability for keeping up a sensible eating routine find themselves choosing their nourishment in a domain that neglects to display the nutritional information for settling on such choices.
Estimating the effect of food labeling prepared in restaurants and groceries on purchasers' eating designs displays numerous difficulties. Hardly any eating areas put nutritional labels on all food substances. Individuals who operate the restaurants would prefer not to experience a decrease in the number of sales by adjusting their labeling practices to quantify consumer reaction. Should such areas exist, a large number of customers would need to visit these testing settings for a larger part of their suppers over stretched out timeframes to take into consideration long haul perceptions and observations. The food safety issues often arise due to the problems associated with, lack of information asymmetry between the consumers and producers on the product-specific characteristics. The food marks are the only tool that can be used by customers to gain extra information about the decisions they make.
Research has shown that there is a connection between characteristics of the labels and the reactions of consumers (Veneziani et al. The space available for printing this information is however limited, this can be overcome by using mobile marketing such as the QR code. The codes are similar to standard bar codes which appear on all consumer products. The acquired information was registered to decide connections and relationships between different components and the utilization of food labeling data among purchasers at the university. The study will consider various factors that affect whether the consumer reads the food label, including the appearance of the food labels on the pre-packaged food, time constraints and routine purchasing of regular food products therefore not taking the time to read the label.
AIMS, OBJECTIVES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS AIM The main aim of this dissertation is to investigate awareness and utilization of pre-packaged food labeling amongst university students. The dissertation also examines the information that consumers are interested in, and the details they identify which guarantee food quality and safety. OBJECTIVES • To research into university students’ understanding of nutritional information found on the food labels contained in pre-packaged food products • To establish how food labels, including brand names, influence consumers’ purchasing decision-making processes • Identify consumer behaviors when making purchasing decisions based on the information that they require in the label. Many countries started to institute this rule as a result of increased problems such as falsification, adulteration of food, the presence of biological physical and chemical substances in the food products (Verbeke 2009, p.
Apart from providing information to consumers on what is contained in the food. Knowledge on nutrition could be imperative for dietary decisions in different courses, for instance, by directly affecting decisions on nutrition, without food labels, or by affecting states of mind or convictions. Marking could also be a mediator of the correlation that exists between nutrition knowledge and dietary practices The law in many countries requires the labeling to contain information that allows consumers to know what they are taking and its side effects and thus enable them to decide their nutritional and dietary efforts. According to Boström, Klintman and Micheletti 2008,packaged food are foodstuffs that are wrapped or enclosed in protective and preserving containers such as glass, paper or plastic packaging materials and are kept for long by use of preservatives.
Consumers of pre-packed foods should settle on a cognizant selection of foods taking into consideration health status and requirements. Food labeling data is imperative for individuals who require a specific diet or have food-related medical issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and different sorts of malignancies as it allows them to make educated decisions on the food they eat and helps them avoid potential risks to their health (Washi, 2012). Labels of pre-packed foods utilize brand names to showcase their items while purchasers make informed decisions on what to buy based on these brands. Research in Poland carried out by Katarzyna et al. , (2010) revealed that customers gain an understanding of the nutritional content of food through various sources of the mass media.
The level of education determines how well the consumers follow the instructions contained on the labels and thus have a contribution in making sure that the consumers are protected against all hazards associated with eating packaged foodstuff. The information contained on the food labels provide consumers of the product with all the information they wish to have about the product. University students consuming pre-packaged food, have to take critical decisions concerning the food they are taking according to their health conditions, needs and preferences (De Pelsmacker and Janssens 2007). Understanding the ingredients and date of expiry of the packed food such as packed frozen entrees and crackers and granola bars and canned tuna before taking them is an important aspect of ones' life considering the health impacts associated with diet.
Relative to Bernués, Olaizola, and Corcoran (2003), one of the top five causes of deaths in Europe is associated with foods; it is, therefore, important for university students to understand what they are consuming by reading the information on the product labels. Accessibility was also a factor that was considered by many students. For example, a student would prefer to take quesadillas whose line had one person than go for salad whose line had ten people in the queue (Bernués, Olaizola and Corcoran 2003). n Consumers who care about their lifestyle and relate it to diet are more likely to read the information on the label than consumers who think otherwise (Thilmany, Bond and Bond, 2008). Thilmany, Bond and Bond argue that consumers who believe that they are likely to have health-related problems in the future tend to read and follow the nutritional guidelines, as they are stated on the nutritional label.
Various factors dictate consumers' needs to use food labels. The most fundamental purpose of reading food labels was observed to be looking at the ingredients they have to avoid eating too big a portion of a particular food. The research additionally uncovered a few obstacles to reading and use of pre-packaged food labels such as lack of time, comprehension, and consistency in the written arrangement of labels. The research by Grunters et al. (2010) demonstrated that customers' answers leaned towards basic and non-specialized health content on food labels as opposed to negative terms and allusions to illness. External factors affecting consumers' decisions to read and utilize pre-packaged food labeling can be institutional such as food marking controls, pre-packaged food branding as well as product quality.
Research done by Byrd-Bredbenner (2000) shows those university students rarely read the labels contained in food substances. They additionally found that aged university men were more averse to looking at food labels and that they tended to take a look at protein and macronutrients when they did. Mature university ladies were more concerned with the food containing calories and therefore looked at calorific information. In the UK, Food labeling has its own rules and regulations. In early 90's food labeling was voluntary done and not as a regulation (Taylor and Wilkening V. Food labeling helps individuals in making diet-related decisions that have become quite helpful in taming one of the world's upcoming issues. Many people are not living up to their long-age because of consuming foods that are harmful to their health Young people are no longer active as before because of diet-related issues which could be minimized through checking of labeling food products mostly acquired from the canteens at school (Malik, Willet, and Hu, 2013).
University students are one target group that does not necessarily make the best of decisions when it comes to food, nutrition and eating healthy (Marietta Welshimer being, Long Anderson 1999) most of them end up practicing these bad habits that will lead to them exposed to chronic diseases. These bad habits are passed down to the adult years and as one get older by the years. This tends to lead older people who would have been strong and healthier to an early grave. This will also help in solving dietary issues and be able to tame obesity as one can organize his food diets and limit excessive consumption of unhealthy food products such as saturated sugars. Food labeling helps individuals with health problems such as food allergies to identify and avoid any ingredients that are linked to foods they are allergic to.
Most people have directly suffered and even choked to death due to disclaimers in food labels. Incorrect labeling of products by label companies on items without clearly stating the kind of food products present in these items has angered most consumers as this directly affects them even when traces of such items are found in small numbers. They, however, urge food label companies to be more precise on the kind of ingredients they may publish on the labels. There are numerous variables adding to low rates of the use of food labels, including the absence of nutrition knowledge information, low literacy, confusion, low inspiration and an apparent lack of time. Shoppers regularly experience issues understanding the labels because of weakness education, and even people with higher proficiency think that it's hard to perform more minds boggling undertakings, for example, deciphering and ascertaining numeric food label information to figure out what food items they should choose that are solid.
Cowburn and Stockley (2005) specified that buyers may glance at the labels, see a portion of the data, but then be confused by other information. Most people do not have adequate knowledge about essential nutrition to comprehend terms concerning supplements, making it much more difficult to understand the significance of nutritional information. The absence of comprehension of food labels, low levels of wellbeing proficiency and poor learning about nutrition, make it imperative that extra instructive and elucidation aids are provided, particularly to understand misdirecting health claims on different foods. , 1999; Smith et al. According to Smith et al. , 2000, increasing the use of food labels among undergraduates is likewise essential since, given that they are young, many of them may not accept they are in danger of creating incessant conditions and in this manner have little inspiration to use the nutritional information on the food labels.
Expanded utilization of food labels can additionally lead to decreased levels of utilization of unhealthy foods. Continued use of the food labels has proven to lea to sustained healthy eating habits and has reduced the risk of developing chronic health diseases significantly (Marietta et al. Most food consumers use the nutritional information as their only source of information in spite of the nutritional education they receive (Cowburn and Stockley, 2005). Although training students on the importance of supplemental labels have been useful, there is small understanding about what interventions and strategies might be powerful in enhancing the comprehension of the labels and their utilization. According to Marietta et al. , 1999, supplemental food education is an important factor that has increased the understanding of food labels and their benefits among university students.
There is a relationship between food label education and increased knowledge on food label use, positive attitude and increased use of the labels. De Pelsmacker and Janssens (2007) says that, there exist no information concerning research relating young consumers decision to buy a product and reading the food labels on pre-packaged food products. Young people especially university students are a section of consumers that are exposed to a wide variety of food products and eating situations that are diversified making them vulnerable to complicated food choice (De Pelsmacker and Janssens 2007) This dissertation was conducted to investigate awareness and utilization of pre-packaged food labeling amongst university students. It was based on university students’ level of awareness of the contents and nutritional information of pre-packaged foods, including their discernment of the significance of such data and the challenges they experience in reading and utilizing pre-packaged food labels (Coveney, 2007).
Study population The study targeted university students respondents aged between 19-29 years of age and some food store owners within the three university premises. The students who were sampled to take part in the study included different students from all departments in the three universities. , 2007) Thus N=2. 072 N=450 By the use of the formula, N*100/ (100-10) the sample size used was 500 respondents. Data collection A study with both closed and open-ended questionnaires was utilized to gather data from different consumers who were discovered buying pre-packaged food in selected grocery stores (and specialists of mechanical food organizations - workers and staff within food production industries). The acquired information was registered to decide connections and relationships between different components and the utilization of food labeling data among university students.
The study considered various factors that affected whether the consumer read the food label, including the appearance of the food labels on the pre-packaged food, time constraints and routine purchasing of regular food products therefore not taking the time to read the label. Respondents who read food labels were requested to clarify their observation on the significance of food labeling data and explain the challenges they experience in reading and understanding them. Participants The survey included 500 willing respondents. 10% or 50 of the respondents were food storeowners or store workers around universities while 90% or 450 respondents were university students. Three trained assistants helped in soliciting food storeowners and students to fill in the 10-15-minute questionnaires. Figure 1: Showing the number of respondents in percentages The respondents were from two sites of UWL selected randomly from the St Mary’s campus in Ealing and the Paragon campus in Brentford.
Data analysis According to Zhang and Wildemuth, 2009, the aim of qualitative data analysis is to identify themes and categories of the data obtained from the respondents and that can help the interviewer identify the different categories and social realities in a particular setting of the identified themes. It can also be used to provide more detailed insight into complicated issues that may arise during data collection process. Data collection was done within two weeks. All the questionnaires returned were checked by the trained data collection assistants for completeness. Questionnaires were classified depending on the number of items that the respondents replied to. The research indicated that 67% of all respondent below the age of 23 had no know information about food labeling as compared to respondents above age 23 who majority were informed.
This indicates that the ability of an individual to have food labeling information increases with the age of an individual. The level of awareness was found to be higher among students with health-related issues such as diabetes, heart attack and obesity than those who considered themselves healthy. Do you Consult food labels Frequency Percentage Yes 167 37% No 283 63% Figure 3: Table showing Frequency of consulting food labels. Reasons for consulting food labels According to the responses received, students who considered consulting food labels before purchasing foodstuffs had some common reasons. f) Ingredients Most respondents said that they looked for foodstuffs with less and simple ingredients as they had feared that those with unpronounceable ingredients were not good for their health. Consumers identify healthy foods rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and help them in the identification of food substances that have a high content of calories, sodium and fat content (Brecher et al.
Scientists also discovered that food labeling enhances supplement intake, for example, expanding utilization of dietary fiber and decreasing calories from total and soaked fats, sodium and cholesterol. According to Silverglade and Heller, 2010, by possibly enhancing dietary decision, labeling of food products can be utilized to diminish the danger of current leading causes for death in the United Kingdom, for example, heart attacks, diabetes, stroke and a few types of a tumor, and also diminishing the exponential expenses of nutrition-related infections. Campaigns and awareness need to be done to increase the efficacy and effectiveness of the food labels. Variables that inspire buyers to read the food labels. From the responses given by the respondents, the responses reveal that participating students were motivated by different factors.
3% of all respondents who said they read the labels said that they are inspired by the desire to know the characteristic of the food before they decided to purchase and use the food product. 6% were inspired by their health conditions while 5. 1% said that they were inspired by advertisement they had seen or heard about the product Variables that inspire buyers to read the food labels. Misra (2007) asserts that university students had more positive attitudes towards fool labels and expanded levels on their use than students who had already graduated. A conceivable clarification for this is a huge level of the graduate students were universal students who may have had restricted involvement and learning about the use of food labels and the appropriate nutrition.
Chapter five Conclusion From the research, it is evident that most university and especially those between the ages of 19 to 23 years do not see the need for reading and using information contained in food labels. These findings can be generalized to all university students as the samples were taken from three different universities taken from different places. The findings concluded that only less than a half of the respondents in the study had information on the importance of reading and following instruction contained on the food labels. The stigma may make many students avoid the use of food labels from the fear of being caught by fellow "regular" university students. They may forego using the food labels for fear of being embarrassed.
These social norms should be addressed since they have a potential of decreasing students attitude towards the use of food labels. Educational programs should emphasize that it's not new or strange to look for food labels. Most students using pre-packaged food were found to have more interest on the expiry date, manufacturing date, food name, manufacturer name, net content of the food, and nutritional information part of the labeling information. The findings of the study represent a subjective set of information which is related to tastes and preferences of consumers and can be used in the development and advancement of guidelines for consumers’ education. Market changes should be monitored and special consideration to consumers conditions in which food items are purchased.
The findings can be used in advocacy, formulation of policies and a marketing plan by producers. The research also revealed that students faced some challenges such as unfamiliar languages; use of scientific terms by the manufacturers’ and use of small font sizes on the food labels that make it hard for people especially with eyes problems to read the labels. Recommendations From the findings in this research, the following recommendations are suggested. Decisional balance and perceived barriers towards food label use should be addressed in the future interventions to ensure that university students enhance their healthy eating habits. Students should be provided with tools that promote more favorable attitudes towards the use of food labels and different ways to deal with the negative societal norms and the ability to analyze and interpret food labels to improve self-efficacy and promote better understanding.
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American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 31(5), 391-398 Thilmany, D. , Bond, C. Consumer perceptions of traceability: Across-national comparison of the associated benefits. Food Quality and Preference, 19, 452-464. http://dx. doi. org/10. org/10. 1108/00070709710181559 APPENDICES: Questionnaire Gender Man Woman Non-binary Prefer not to say If you prefer to use your own term, please specify here ……………………. Are you married or in a civil partnership? YES NO Prefer not to say Age 18-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65+ Prefer not to say What is your ethnicity? Ethnic origin is not about nationality, place of birth or citizenship. It is about the group to which you perceive you belong. Please tick the appropriate box. What are the variables that inspire you to read the food labels? Clean label Contains no additives or preservatives Natural ingredients Non – GMO, Pesticide or antibiotic use in production Organically produced • Ingredient transparency • Other……………………………………………………………………… What issues do you experience when looking at/reading food labels? • Not understanding the languages of the labels • The content of food products is not clear • The layout of the food label • Lack of time to read food label If you experience any other issues please give details below.
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