Consumers are looking for more information on their food labels and more transparency from food companies, according to a consumer panel discussion held during the Center for Food Integrity Strategy Conference on Animal Agriculture at Hamburger University on the McDonald’s Campus in Oak Brook, Illinois, May 12-13.
Seven panelists, men and women ages 24-44, of diverse ethnic backgrounds, were chosen to participate in the panel. They each were the primary grocery shopper in their households, all from the Chicago area, and look for one or more of the following labels when they shop: antibiotic free, hormone free or cage free.
Each panelist said he or she shopped for healthier options, such as organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, or labels that said “antibiotic free” or “no high fructose corn syrup.”
Panelists said their priorities when they are at the grocery store include fresh fruits and vegetables and meats without antibiotics or growth hormones. Several panelists said they stay away from highly processed foods and try to keep a healthy balance of food in their homes.
The consumers on the panel expressed that they want to know what chemicals and antibiotics are used in their food, and would like all “-free” foods to be labeled as such. They said the more labeling they see, the more they trust the companies and the more informed decisions they can make.
One panelist said he would like to see more labeling about the sources of his food. Another panelist said she wants to be able to go to a food company’s website to get more information about the company’s products, and that she would trust the information she finds on a company’s website.
One panelist said he prefers to buy organic when he can, but the higher price of organic products forces him to pick and choose which products he will buy organic.
The discussion exposed some of the misconceptions or lack of information some consumers have, such as the reasons antibiotics are used in animal agriculture and the difference between antibiotics and vaccines.
The panel discussion was moderated by Jana McGuire of the Center for Food Integrity.