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Koers

On-line version ISSN 0023-270X

Abstract

VAN DER MERWE, M.  and  VENTER, K.. A consumer perspective on food labelling: Ethical or not?. Koers (Online) [online]. 2010, vol.75, n.2, pp. 405-428. ISSN 0023-270X.

This article provides a review of ethical food labelling from a consumer perspective and makes recommendations to the food industry and regulators regarding ethical food labelling in order to satisfy consumers' food-labelling needs. Various studies have found that many consumers have negative perceptions regarding food labelling. However, research on consumers' perspectives regarding ethical food labelling has been accorded little attention. This article addresses this topic through a review of the relevant literature of mostly quantitative research, but also includes qualitative and mixed method studies. The article examines such aspects as the trustworthiness of claims on food labels, intelligibility of label information, listing of food additives on labels, and labelling of genetically modified foods. As negative perspectives on food labelling are likely to affect consumers' decision making regarding the purchasing of food products, the food industry must realise their responsibility to provide ethical food labels. The food industry and regulators should aim to provide risk communication and intelligible information through ethical food labels and consumer education programmes on food labelling. Consumers need to be aware of their right to know what they are purchasing through ethical food labels and take a stand in this regard.

Keywords : consumer; consumer education; food ethics; food labelling.

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