Food health claims – What consumers understand
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.06.001
Issues pertaining to consumer understanding of food health claims are complex and difficult to disentangle because there is a surprising lack of multidisciplinary research aimed at evaluating how consumers are influenced by factors impacting on the evaluation process. In the EU, current legislation is designed to protect consumers from misleading and false claims but there is much debate about the concept of the ‘average consumer’ referred to in the legislation. This review provides an overview of the current legislative framework, discusses the concept of the ‘average consumer’ and brings together findings on consumer understanding from an international perspective. It examines factors related to the personal characteristics of individuals such as socio-demographic status, knowledge, and attitudes, and factors pertaining to food and food supplement products such as the wording of claims and the communication of the strength and consistency of the scientific evidence. As well as providing insights for future research, the conclusions highlight the importance of enhancing the communication of scientific evidence to improve consumer understanding of food health claims.