A “Natural” Miscommunication: An Examination of Front-of-Package Label Claims and User-Centered Food Labeling Practices
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This research reports on the results of an online survey of 707 students at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs that examines respondent food label usage and interpretations, confidence in, and understanding of regulation for several common front-of-package label claims found on U.S. food labels. The project examines varying open-ended interpretations of common words and phrases used on front-of-package label claims. Open-ended questions were tabulated by textual analysis counting and tagging. This research also examines differences in understanding of regulation of front-of-package label claims between sub-groups within the sample, assessed via the predictive capabilities of specific respondent attributes as determined by logistic regression. Using IBM’s Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) statistical analysis software, simultaneous logistic regression models were conducted for the survey data. Several designated variables within the respondent population were compared, based upon sub-sets of respondents, divided by gender, age, income, and concern with future risk of health conditions. The results of this work serve as a directive to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that front-of-package label claims need further examination and standardization. In addition, the research ultimately provides directives for pedagogical use in the university technical communication classroom.
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