Earlier this month, Label Insight announced the launch of our Open Data Initiative, which provides complimentary use of Label Insight’s product data to academic researchers and non-profit organizations. The goal of this initiative is to advance critical research topics that affect today's increasingly health conscious food shoppers. Today we’re excited to share one of the real life applications of this research.
Over the past few years, the UK Department of Health rolled out a consistent “traffic light” system that combines red, yellow, and green color-coding and nutritional information to show how much fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and calories are in food products to help consumers make healthier choices about the food they eat. Consumers can see at a glance if the food product has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt: red means high; amber means medium; green means low.
Since its rollout it has consistently come out as one of the top initiatives in both consumer preference and its ability to support consumers in identifying healthier choices.
With more than two thirds of the average American diet deriving from packaged food and beverages, The George Institute for Global Health has begun to examine whether the traffic light labeling initiative would be a meaningful option for front-of-pack labelling in the USA.
In order to conduct this research, the George Institute will be using data from Label Insight’s Open Data Initiative - the largest food composition database in the US - alongside descriptive statistics to describe the proportion of products classified as high (red), medium (yellow) or low (green) in total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt using the traffic light criteria. The proportion of products in each category that have each possible combination of traffic light colors will be examined. The mean, median and range of values for total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium per 100g/mL will also be calculated.
This research has the potential to bring about significant changes in purchase behavior as it relates to the effectiveness of marketing claims and certifications. The traffic light system is an objective indicator of the product's relative healthiness which may outweigh the influence of marketing claims or certifications.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Dunford, Research Fellow for The George Institute for Global Health's Food Policy, “Label Insight's food composition data has the potential to be the top data source for all U.S. researchers in the industry. The deep level of data goes far beyond what we would be able to collect ourselves."
Label Insight is proud to be part of a research project with such widespread potential impact and look forward to the results of this important study.