According to a study by researchers from New York University, many online grocery retailers are struggling to provide consumers with consistent food labeling on products.
Labels on food products provide important nutritional information, including warnings for allergies and details about sugar, salt, and carbohydrate levels in foods. And, the experts have warned that consumers need this information about their food choices.
The researchers found that a trend has been occurring among online grocery stores that means consumers may not be getting this information consistently.
Are consumers getting the information they need?
The researchers analyzed information from nine major online food retailers on 10 different food products/ Most of them were packaged goods, and these require an ingredients list, along with a common allergy warning and a full breakdown of the nutritional values.
Overall, the researchers found a lot of gaps in the labeling. Nutritional information was found in approximately 46% of the items, and ingredients lists were found for roughly 54% of them.
In addition to this, the information was only found to be consistent in different stores and food items 36% of the time, and allergy warnings were only shown on 11% of products.
The researchers also looked into the regulations that exist for food labeling. They found that the FDA, FTC, and USDA could potentially address this issue by making sure food labeling is more consistent for online retailers – and this could help consumers make better food choices.
“Our findings highlight the current failure of both regulations and industry practice to provide a consistent environment in which online consumers can access information that is required in conventional stores,” said researcher Sean Cash.
He added, “With the expectation that online grocery sales could top $100 billion for 2021, the requirements to provide consumers with information need to keep up with the evolving marketplace.”