Determination of Food Label Reading Habits and Allergen Knowledge Level of Female Consumers
Aim: This research was planned and conducted to determine nutritional label reading habits and the level of allergen knowledge of adult female consumers.
Subjects and Method: This cross-sectional study was conducted between March-September 2017 with 410 voluntary consumers (aged between 19-44 years) living in Hatay, and who do not have any chronic or metabolic diseases and do their own food shopping. Socio-demographic characteristics, nutrition label reading habits and allergen knowledge level were questioned. Individuals participating in the study were randomly selected.
Results: Sixty percent of the individuals participating in the study reported that they read the food labels during food shopping. The most viewed food group is the milk and dairy products, while the least viewed group is the carbonated beverages. The date of expiry was considered as the most important factor when purchasing a food. Fifty-seven percent of participants correctly estimated the reason why that the allergens on the food labels were written in bold. Only 20.5% of the individuals had sufficient level of allergy knowledge. A statistically significant relationship was found between level of income, body mass index (BMI), education status and allergy knowledge level (p<0.05).
Conclusion: Despite the fact that most of the consumers often read the food labels, they usually do not completely understand the information written on the label. The allergens are generally shown on the food packages, but consumers are not aware of these substances. Therefore, regulations should be made in the Turkish Food Codex Regulation on Food Labeling and Prodision of Information to Consumer in order to ensure consumer safety and to make the food labels more comprehensible for consumers. The consumers should also be educated about food label reading.