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Attitudes and preferences of consumers toward food allergy labeling practices by diagnosis of food allergies

  • Ju, Se-young (Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Dankook University) ;
  • Park, Jong-Hwan (Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Yonsei University) ;
  • Kwak, Tong-Kyoung (Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Yonsei University) ;
  • Kim, Kyu-earn (Department of pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine)
  • Received : 2015.03.02
  • Accepted : 2015.05.24
  • Published : 2015.10.01

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to investigate food allergens and prevalence rates of food allergies, followed by comparison of consumer attitudes and preferences regarding food allergy labeling by diagnosis of food allergies. SUBJECTS/METHODS: A total of 543 individuals living in Seoul and Gyeonggi area participated in the survey from October 15 to 22 in 2013. RESULTS: The results show that the prevalence of doctor-diagnosed food allergies was 17.5%, whereas 6.4% of respondents self-reported food allergies. The most common allergens of doctor-diagnosed and self-reported food allergy respondents were peaches (30.3%) and eggs (33.3%), respectively, followed by peanuts, cow's milk, and crab. Regarding consumer attitudes toward food labeling, checking food allergens as an item was only significantly different between allergic and non-allergic respondents among all five items (P < 0.001). All respondents reported that all six items (bold font, font color, box frame, warning statement, front label, and addition of potential allergens) were necessary for an improved food allergen labeling system. PLSR analysis determined that the doctor-diagnosed group and checking of food allergens were positively correlated, whereas the non-allergy group was more concerned with checking product brands. CONCLUSIONS: An effective food labeling system is very important for health protection of allergic consumers. Additionally, government agencies must develop policies regarding prevalence of food allergies in Korea. Based on this information, the food industry and government agencies should provide clear and accurate food labeling practices for consumers.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : Ministry of Food and Drug Safety

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