The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has published a report finding that 77 percent of surveyed adults use the Nutrition Facts label at least some of the time when buying a food product. Intended to help the agency regulate food and dietary supplement labeling, the 11th edition of the FDA Health and Diet Survey relies on data from 2,480 participants interviewed by telephone or cellphone about their use of nutrition labels and understanding of nutrition claims, purchasing practices and general attitudes toward nutrition and health issues.
The results highlight consumer attitudes about salt reduction, with almost all respondents agreeing “the nation eats more salt than we should.” Of these, 50 percent believe individuals are most effective in curbing their own salt consumption, while 25 percent believe the responsibility lies with food manufacturers and retailers, 5 percent with restaurants, and 5 percent with government. The report also finds that (i) “six in ten adults who had seen claims related to fat thought the government sets standards about which products are qualified to use the claim,” (ii) 16 percent of consumer who used caffeine products “thought they had experienced adverse health effects from these products”; and (iii) “nine in ten adults had heard of trans fat or omega 3 fatty acids,” but 25 percent of these respondents “could not tell if the fat raises, lowers, or has no relationship with the risk of heart disease.”
“Almost nine in ten U.S. adults said they used claims such as ‘low in sodium,’ ‘rich in antioxidants,’ ‘contains no added sugar,’ and ‘no sugar added’ when buying food products,” states the report. “Yet, only one third of adults thought these claims accurately describe the products.”