Food labels are central for communicating information about food products to consumers, and thus are important for imparting food safety messages, particularly as a high proportion of food-borne illnesses are caused by poor domestic food handling practices. This paper reviews studies investigating consumers’ responses to labels, emphasizing findings related to food safety messages. The evidence is contradictory but consumers do use labels. However, as labels contain so much diverse information it can be difficult for consumers to identify the important food safety messages. There is some confusion over terms relating to spoilation dates, and information such as cooking guidelines that are generally ignored. Like many behaviours, use of labels is influenced by a wide range of factors including attitudes, knowledge, experience, socio-demographic characteristics, trust in message providers and label design. Recommendations are for more research into the use of food safety information on labels, observational studies to inform understanding of this issue and clarification for consumers about what information is important to food safety.
- Food labels
- Food safety