Food Purchasing Behavior

Safety is one of the most basic factors driving consumer food purchasing behaviors, and consumer awareness of food safety issues is high, according to Understanding Consumer Attitudes About Food Safety: How Food Manufacturers, Retailers and the Food Service Industry Can Build Consumer Trust, a collaborative report from market research publisher Packaged Facts, a division of, and Wharf Research.

Consumer Awareness Facts

  • If you see a label on an individual food stating that it is low cholesterol it cannot contain more than 20mg of cholesterol per serving and 2 grams of fat.
  • The government allows 350 pesticide ingredients to be used on crops. Approximately 70 of these have been classified as possible carcinogens.
  • If a food is labeled low fat it cannot contain more than 3 grams of fat per individual serving. This may still be high since most companies figure 30 percent of your calories can come from fat. Still need to calculate and multiply 9 calories per gram times the total amount of fat you are actually eating.
  • The only low fat milks are 1 percent, which are 16 percent fats after you remove the water, skim and buttermilk.
  • If the label reads low in saturated fat, the food cannot have more than one gram of fat per serving. Make sure, however, that you count up the total in the full amount you are eating, it may be higher than you think.
  • Sorbital, used as a sweetener in diabetic candies can cause diarrhea.
  • Pineapple juice may help keep arteries clear and with the chemical bromelin.
  • Ninety-seven percent of people who purchased processed foods never read the labels according to a survey. The same survey showed that 84 percent still do not read the labels.

Wholesome, Pure and Natural

What do these terms mean? Nothing. Marketers use these vague claims to imply a product is healthful, but in fact, they have nothing to do with nutritional value.

According to the government, “Wholesome” simply means “fit for human consumption” (e.g., no insect parts), while “pure” and “natural” have no official definitions. And “reduced sugar” is a code for “artificial sweetener” added. This is especially true for yogurts, instant oatmeal, cookies and fruit drinks. Often, sugar-free or reduced-sugar foods have as many or even more calories than the originals.

Natural Foods is a term widely used but with little meaning and sometimes misleading since all foods come from natural sources. No legal definition seems possible but guidelines suggest the term should be applied only to single foods that have been subjected only to mild processing, i.e. largely by physical methods such as heating, concentrating, freezing, etc., but not chemically or severely processed.

Read More: Food Facts