Traffic Light Labels Help & Hurt

Traffic Light Labels Help & Hurt Some experts think displaying colored dots on food label facts panels can help consumers better determine whether a selection is good, okay or not so good. This traffic light system is named for the green (good), yellow (okay) and red (not so good) colored dots that would appear next to fat, sugar, salt and other callouts. Research published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies suggests it might both help and hurt, depending on how you measure results.

Scientists asked 250 volunteers to rate foods and financial services using a traffic light system along with an uncolored approach to sorting out the facts. They found that consumers would be much more aware of the level of fat in a pizza, and make more sensible purchasing choices, using traffic light colors. Unfortunately, the same system tends to distract from other attributes including organic.

True Strength Moment: If everyone took the time to digest facts panels on food purchases, better decisions would likely be made before heading to the checkout line. Those who don't want to be bothered with all these facts can simply purchase fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. There typically aren't any facts panels on whole foods.
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