Importance of Nutritional Food Labelling on packaged food items and consumers understanding in Ireland

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Staunton, Sarah
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Ireland is set to become the most obese country In Europe by 2030 due to the increase in unhealthy eating habits amongst the population. Globally, the consumption of processed and convenient foods has increased over the generations and this has led to an increase in diet related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. The implementation of the Nutritional Labelling Law in 2011, has had a positive effect on consumers food choices and purchasing behaviours. Nutrition food labels is an effective tool to make consumers aware of the nutrition content of pre-packed food products. Nutrition food labels provide the information to allow the consumer to make an informed decision about the food product before purchasing. This study aims to show the importance of nutritional food labelling and determine consumers understanding and perception of nutritional food labels in Ireland before purchasing pre-packed food products. A Quantitative methodology using an online survey was used to collect primary data in this study. A total of 103 participant responses were received within 3 weeks. Secondary data was collected from journals, articles, books and websites. 79% of consumers in Ireland reported to read nutrition food labels before purchasing food products. However, only 47.8% of consumers understand the nutrition information on pre-packed food products. Consumers find front-of-pack food labels easier to understand compared to back-of-pack food labels. Consumers that read nutrition food labels prefer to buy food products with nutrition claims such ad low-fat and high-fibre. Consumers are becoming more health conscious about their food choices and want to improve their health especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Demographics such as age, gender, education level and income status influence consumers purchasing behaviours. More research is required in this area as people read and use nutrition food labels to make informed decisions about food products before purchasing however obesity levels remain high in Ireland. The Government need to step in and implement new strategies to educate people about nutrition food labels and increase consumers understanding as people want to improve their overall health. Nutrition food labels is the only form of communication between the food manufacturer and the consumer. Therefore, the manufacturer has iv a responsibility to make nutrition food labels displayed on their food products informative but simple for the consumer to understand. It is important that the information on the nutrition food labels is catered to all consumers so they can make an informed decision about the food product before purchasing and make long-term healthier decisions.

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