The use and interpretation of the nutrition information on the food label of selected fat spreads by female consumers aged 25-45 years, living in Pietermaritzburg.
Aim: To determine the use and interpretation of the nutrition information on the food label of selected fat spreads by female consumers aged 25 to 45 years, living in Pietermaritzburg. Objectives: This study set out to determine the following objectives regarding the food label: what the demographics of the consumers making use of the label were; how these consumers used the label and their motivation behind this label use and did the use of the label alter the purchase of that product? Method: One hundred and fifty women aged 25-45 years were chosen from an accidental, non-probability sample of consumers shopping at selected supermarkets within Pietermaritzburg. Respondents were presented with a four part questionnaire surrounding the purchase of selected fat spreads. Results: The greatest number of respondents were from the white population group (n = 65), followed by black respondents (n = 46), Indian respondents (n = 29) and then coloured respondents (n = 10). Results showed that the respondent who was most likely to use the nutrition information on the food label had a tertiary education; was a primary food purchaser, lived with other people, had more than R1000 a month to spend on food and was conscious of choosing the healthier option. Fifty five percent of this study sample (n = 82) claimed to use the nutrition information on the label to assist with purchases and 68% (n = 102) found the nutrition information important for purchasing a new product. Of the potential factors that have previously been found to impede the use of the nutrition information label:-inadequate print size, lack of education as well as lack of nutrition information on the food label were found to be factors restricting label use in this study. The most commonly used sources of nutrition information were the media as well as friends and family and the most trusted source was the Health Professional. Discussion: If the nutrition information is to be used both correctly and effectively, there must be a major educational campaign that sets out to meet the needs of the population that are most vulnerable, especially those with an inadequate education. Conclusion: The consumer most likely to use the nutrition information on the food label has a tertiary education, is a primary food purchaser with a large amount of money available for groceries and is conscious of choosing a healthier option. The label is most likely to be used when purchasing a fat spread for the first time.