RMIT University

04 May 2012

Building trust in food labels

A research team from RMIT University is investigating new ways to deliver food product information, in a project that aims to assist industry in adopting new technologies.

The team, led by Professor Caroline Chan, School of Business IT and Logistics, is collaborating with Steven Pereira, Chief Information Officer, GS1 Australia.

A month-long survey involving about 300 consumers from around Australia was conducted during October and November.

Participants were asked how confident they felt about the various sources of food product information, which includes storage instructions, use-by and best-before dates, instructions for use/preparation, nutritional information and ingredients.

The findings showed health professionals, scientists, government health and regulatory bodies and health-related associations were the most trusted sources of food product information.

The survey also showed that traditional printed food labels were still the most trusted medium for information, while general internet sources were moderately trusted.

Other electronic sources, including social media and smartphone applications, were less than moderately trusted, with SMS/MMS the least trusted media for product information.

Professor Chan said that although consumers were comfortable using electronic technology for other routine tasks, they did not currently trust it as a media channel of food product information.

"The challenge is to develop credible and reliable electronic sources that can provide a wide range of detailed information about food, which consumers will trust," Professor Chan said.

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Scanning barcode on Milo tin with a mobile phone

RMIT researchers are investigating which methods of delivering food product information are trusted by consumers.