Two-fifths of consumers are unhappy with the information provided on food labelling about artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives, according to a Harris Interactive survey commissioned exclusively for Food Manufacture.
Of 1,919 people polled, just 45% said they were happy with information given, while 15% were unsure. In particular, almost half of 45-54-year olds were dissatisfied with the data highlighting the added ingredients.
The findings followed a flurry of stories in the national press regarding consumer concerns about additives and pledges from Marks & Spencer and Asda to remove E-numbers from own-label food products. Sainsbury also committed to removing artificial colours and flavours from its own-label soft drinks in March.
While, 69% of respondents polled said they believed that products without added artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives were healthier for them, almost one-fifth said they did not believe that.
A total of 74% of women, versus 63% of men thought such products were healthier. "If you look at males and females, females are more likely to think that additives are bad for you," said Harris Interactive senior research executive Brendan Russell, who supervised the collation of the new research.
Of those questioned, only a fifth said they never looked at product labelling to specifically check how much, if any, of these added ingredients were included. Three-fifths of those surveyed said they sometimes looked.
However, a division between the sexes was evident, with more than a quarter of men admitting they never scanned labels, against just 12% of women.