The Muddy Waters of the Clean Label

Consumers are more conscious today than ever before about the foods they choose to put into their bodies—they’re paying attention to nutritional claims and taking the time to look at food labels. In fact, over half of the respondents to this year’s International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) Food and Health Survey indicated that they always or almost always look at the nutrition facts panel of ingredient list when making a purchasing decision.

According to a recent study by Mintel highlighted in this FoodNavigator article, in addition to looking at the nutrition facts and the ingredient list consumers are also on the lookout for products boasting claims like ‘natural’, ‘free-from’, ‘healthy’, and ‘clean’. These concepts, however, are more challenging to interpret, define, and associate with specific health benefits.

The term ‘clean’ can also be polarizing and even confusing. While some consumers said they liked that a product was clean, several asked what ‘clean’ meant

As if consumers weren’t already confused enough about food by what they read online and hear from their family and friends, when poorly-defined terms are thrown into the mix their trust can start to wane. In fact, the Mintel study found that only 44% of consumers trust the claims on food and beverage products.

Currently, the FDA is in the process of modernizing and more clearly defining claims such as ‘natural’, ‘healthy’, and ‘clean’. In the meantime, however, consumers are still confused and the need for education is greater than ever.

Communicating with consumers through everyday health professionals is not only an effective way for brands to tap into their nutrition expertise and bypass the confusing terms altogether, but also a way to build trust through the professionals they constantly turn to. As consumers are becoming more conscious of their food choices, it’s crucial that they’re properly educated.