Droulers O, Amar J. - 46909 N - Public Health Nutr 2015 ; in press.

The legibility of food package information in France: an equal challenge for young and elderly consumers?

OBJECTIVE: The present study investigated whether food package information is legible in a real purchase context; more specifically, it examined the level of legibility of non-mandatory, mandatory and nutritional information as well as the influence of age on legibility. This is an important issue, especially for older consumers who are usually advised to pay attention to their diet.

DESIGN: An in-store study was conducted in a French hypermarket. Descriptive statistics were used to measure the overall level of legibility and then ANOVA tests were carried out to examine the influence of age on the legibility of information. Complementary results included the influence of level of education.

SETTING: Participants were asked to read information on four food packages when they were food shopping.

SUBJECTS: The sample included 196 consumers aged 18-82 years.

RESULTS: An asymmetry was observed between the extremely high level of legibility of non-mandatory information and the low level of legibility of mandatory and nutritional information provided on food packages. Elderly respondents performed significantly worse than their younger counterparts. An interaction effect was found between age and level of education on the legibility of mandatory information.

CONCLUSIONS: Legibility of mandatory information is clearly unsatisfactory. There appears to be a hierarchy between significant, but non-mandatory, company information and important mandatory and nutritional information. The first type of information is promoted on food packages whereas the last two are all but concealed to older and less educated consumers.