Exploring Consumer Response to Labeling a Processing Aid That Enhances Food Safety

Christine Bruhn, Yaohua Feng Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 305-313, May 2021 Volume 41, Issue 3: Pages 305–313

Dimethyl dicarbonate (DMDC) can be used to reduce microbiological levels in juice. The United States does not require mandatory labeling of juice with DMDC. Food processors who value transparency need to communicate their processing methods without raising concerns about chemical use. This study used focus groups to identify consumer responses to and preferred communication approaches about the use of DMDC in juice. Orange juice consumers who were the household’s primary food purchasers and were not employed in the food industry were recruited. Participants (N = 58) were asked their sources of food safety information, responses to label statements, and preferences for communicating about processing methods. Most participants obtained information on health and safety via the internet. The majority preferred the flavor of fresh-squeezed juice. Some mentioned they avoided processed foods. “No added chemicals,” “no added sugar,” and “all natural” were the most important labeling terms when they purchased juice, whereas “pasteurized” ranked the lowest. Though the participants’ initial response to DMDC was negative, most were willing to try DMDC-treated juice after they received information. Some responded that labeling was unnecessary, but others believed strongly that consumers had the right to be informed. A label statement and web link were recommended to address the knowledge gap.

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