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Nutrition labels may boost raw seafood purchase
2016-05-23 12:08:53 copyfrom： hits:
Fish display at a fishmonger's. (Photo: Visitor7/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Thursday, May 19, 2016, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
A new study carried out by researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) concludes that if grocers put nutrition labels on packages of raw fish, consumers will likely purchase more raw seafood.
As part of the study, Xiang Bi, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, worked with her colleagues to survey 1,000 people online to gauge consumer reactions to raw fish with nutrition labels.
The scientist recalled that until 2012, federal rules only required nutrition labels on processed and commercial foods. That year, the federal government started requiring raw meat and poultry products to carry nutrition information on their labels.
In the new study, researchers focused on three types of information: nutrition, health and a combination of nutrition and health. By putting the same nutrition label on raw seafood packages as consumers can find on raw packages of meat, consumers are more willing to buy the raw seafood, the study found. This finding may interest the seafood industry, grocers and policy makers.
Bi targeted the web survey to parents who not only have children living at home but who cook meals for their kids.
“We focused on parents with children because their choices may very well influence the choices of the future generation,” she said.
Before they did the online consumer survey, Bi and her team of professor Lisa House and associate professor Zhifeng Gao, both of whom are also faculty with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department, learned a bit about seafood purchasing habits from conducting focus groups.
“Though respondents understand the nutritional benefits of seafood and would choose seafood for health and nutritional benefits, some of them still deep-fry their seafood,” Bi said. “Thus, how you cook seafood remains paramount to its nutrition value. Light seafood consumers, particularly, do not want to prepare seafood at home.”
Among many questions in the online survey, researchers asked participants why they choose seafood for a family meal. Eighty per cent cited taste as the most important reason, followed by nutrition, variety, price, fat content, calories and preparation time.
In addition to focusing on parents, the researchers point out the health benefits of fish, specifically their Omega-3 fatty acids that help the heart. The American Heart Association recommends people of all ages consume fish at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids also help children since they help in brain, nerve and eye development.
The study findings reveal that despite these benefits, per-capita consumption of seafood in the United States is about 4.8 ounces per week, which is below the minimum recommendation of 7 ounces per week by the heart association.
The new UF/IFAS research is published online in the journal Marine Resource Economics.
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