The effect of knowledge on the consumer acceptance of food additives

Friday, October 09, 2015

Authors: Viktória Szűcs, Erzsébet Szabó, Diána Bánáti




Partly because of consumer demand, and partly because of manufacturing and commercial aspects, our foods contain different additives, which is worrisome to some of the consumers. The goal of the present work was to study the level of knowledge related to additives, and the effect of the information provided in order to reduce the perceived risk.


Results of our questionnaire survey showed that information has a beneficial effect on the consumer acceptance of food additives, and so credible and easy to understand information is extremely important for domestic consumers when making conscious decisions by.


1. Introduction and literature review


Thanks to lifestyle changes (e.g., fast-paced lifestyle, increasing number of single households, spreaading of comfort, semi-finished and prepared fods), food processing at home has been taking a back seat more and more. Because of this trend, the significance of food producers outside the home (catering facilities, food industry) has been increasing continuously. There is an increasing number of new foods on store shelves each year, usually containing different additives in order to satisfy complex consumer demands (e.g., convenience,

palatability, healthiness, freshness, safety), and also production and commercial convenience aspects (e.g., longer shelf-life). At the same time, more and more consumers try to avoid additives, and consume foods containing natural ingredients [1].


According to the latest representative Eurobarometer survey (2010) [2], the level of concern of Hungarian participants regarding additives was significantly higher than the EU average (81% vs. 66%). In addition, the majority of Hungarian consumers think that foods consumed by them might contain chemicals [3], and avoiding additives is part of the „healthy diet” for them [4]. Thanks to the considerable concern regarding food additives, Hungarian consumers try to avoid foods containing additives when shopping [5-7]. However, in the case of aspartame – the sweetener triggering probably the most controversy – it can be stated that exposure of domestic consumers remains well below the acceptable daily intake (ADI) [8], its consumption is not a cause for concern.


Even though consumers think that they know the additives [9], their exact level of knowledge often displays deficiencies in the field [10-11]. The knowledge of domestic consumers regarding food additives can be considered inaccurate. One of the most common misconceptions among consumers is that only artificial substances are denoted by „E-numbers” [12, 13, 14], and the relationship between „E-numbers” and the concept of additives is not clear to them either [14]. The main goal of the present work is to study the level of knowledge of domestic consumers related to additives, and the effect of the information provided on the reduction of the perceived risk.

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