Food bar labels: consumer behaviour and veracity of the available information
Abstract The search for high nutritional value, convenience, low-calorie foods with pleasant sensory characteristics which provide health benefits, makes food bars a promising product in the food sector, and they are already being considered as healthy alternatives according to common sense. The objectives of this study were: (i) to evaluate the interest and the way in which consumers understand the information on food labels; (ii) to determine consumer habits; and (iii) to determine the sugar contents of commercial food bars (conventional, sugar-free and light) to confirm the veracity of the information available on the labels of these products. Regarding the consumption of food bars, the majority of the respondents consumed this product and, although most of them considered them to be a healthy product due to the allegation of being rich in fibre and cereals, even with the knowledge of the presence of sugar, the main reasons taken into consideration when buying them were convenience and practicality. Socio-demographic variables such as gender, age, income and educational level influenced the standards and behaviours of consumption of the product. The quantification of sugar in commercial food bars indicated that these products could be considered as foods with intermediate to high amounts of sugar. The results obtained for sugar-free bars were even more worrying because the concentrations of sugar found indicated a lack of compliance with applicable regulations for this category for all the brands evaluated.