Background Evidence supporting the link between diet and health has prompted policy makers to develop nutrition related food labelling as an established communication medium of health messages. However, several studies have demonstrated the difficulty consumers face in understanding and using food labelling information. The recent introduction of Front Of Pack (FOP) labelling schemes, aim to aid consumers in making informed food choices. Whilst there has been substantial research on the perceived need of these systems, there is limited research on the impact they may be having to the consumer and how they may be affecting food choice. Purpose To develop an appreciation of consumers’ current attitudes to and understanding of food labelling, with particular reference to nutritional information. The study aims to assess if the Front of Pack voluntary nutritional labelling schemes are having an impact on consumer understanding of nutrition information and healthy food choice and if these labelling schemes are influencing food purchase decisions. Methods Participants were recruited from the general public. Four focus groups were conducted involving 22 people in total. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data and build an understanding of consumer interest, perception knowledge and use of food labelling. Results Knowledge and understanding of food label varied across participant groups and within individuals. Use of FOP nutrition labels were used for one off meal purchases but rarely in the context of a whole diet. Consumers were generally confused and distrusting of the variety of different FOP nutrition labelling systems currently in use. Conclusions Individuals who have more of an interest in food labels and a belief in the ability of the information to aid food choice are more likely to use FOP labelling. FOP labelling improved general awareness of food and food choice, limited understanding shown of the relationship between food and health and the ability of FOP labelling to aid food choices that can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.
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