UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Consumer preferences for food allergen labeling Marra, Carlo A; Harvard, Stephanie; Grubisic, Maja; Galo, Jessica; Clarke, Ann; Elliott, Susan; Lynd, Larry D


Background: Food allergen labeling is an important tool to reduce risk of exposure and prevent anaphylaxis for individuals with food allergies. Health Canada released a Canadian food allergen labeling regulation (2008) and subsequent update (2012) suggesting that research is needed to guide further iterations of the regulation to improve food allergen labeling and reduce risk of exposure. Objective: The primary objective of this study was to examine consumer preferences in food labeling for allergy avoidance and anaphylaxis prevention. A secondary objective was to identify whether different subgroups within the consumer population emerged. Methods: A discrete choice experiment using a fractional factorial design divided into ten different versions with 18 choice-sets per version was developed to examine consumer preferences for different attributes of food labeling. Results: Three distinct subgroups of Canadian consumers with different allergen considerations and food allergen labeling needs were identified. Overall, preferences for standardized precautionary and safety symbols at little or no increased cost emerged. Conclusion: While three distinct groups with different preferences were identified, in general the results revealed that the current Canadian food allergen labeling regulation can be improved by enforcing the use of standardized precautionary and safety symbols and educating the public on the use of these symbols.

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