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Consumer trends: 61% of Americans pay attention to food labels

Food labels are more than just marketing words on a package — they reveal important health information for consumers and allow them to make more informed buying decisions as they stroll down the grocery aisles.

Michigan State University recently released the results of its Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, a survey of over 2,000 Americans about their understanding of several food-related topics, including shopping habits and food access. According to the survey, 61% of consumers said that food labels are “influential or very influential” in their purchasing decisions, while just 13% said labels had “minimal influence” or are “not at all influential.”

The survey shows that consumers are paying attention, but that they don’t always have all the information they’d like about their food. About 50% of consumers said they rarely or never seek information about how their food was produced and where it was grown. About a fifth of respondents said they sought this information at least once a week.

Less than half of respondents ranked their understanding of the global food system as “average,” while 38% confidently rated their knowledge as “higher or much higher than average.”

More than half of respondents, 53%, said they look for organic food labels, and 50% said they took into account whether a product was locally produced or not when considering whether to buy it.

Keep DNA out of our food!

The university made a point of including a trick question in its poll: “Using a 1–5 scale, please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statement: All food with deoxyribonucleic acid should be labeled.”

For those of you that might not be in the know, deoxyribonucleic acid exists in all living things — you probably know it as “DNA.”

If you didn’t realize this, you’re not alone, as 49% of respondents agreed completely or somewhat agreed that food containing DNA should be labeled. Just 8% disagreed.

We’ll tell you now — pretty much all food contains DNA. Let’s save packaging designers a bit of trouble.

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