Food Labeling Research

Requirements for Revisions to the Safe Handling Instructions on Raw or Partially Cooked Meat and Poultry Products

For USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, RTI is conducting focus groups with consumers to collect information on consumers’ requirements for revisions to the Safe Handling Instructions (SHI) on raw meat and partially cooked poultry products. We are also conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the benefits resulting from reducing foodborne illness outweigh the costs to industry of mandating changes in the SHI.

Consumer Responses to Warning Labels

FDA contracted with RTI to conduct a systematic literature review of econometric and scientific studies on the effects of health information and warnings on consumer behavior. This literature review will be used to inform a model of how consumers respond to health information for a broad range of FDA-regulated consumer products.

Focus Groups on Menu Labeling

For FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, RTI is conducting focus group research (two sets of eight groups each) to explore consumers’ understanding of daily calorie needs and reactions to menu labeling provisions.

Policy Research for Front of Package Nutrition Labeling

For the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (DHHS, ASPE), RTI conducted a policy research project to understand how consumers, producers, and retailers respond to front-of-package labeling options and how front-of-package nutrition labels can best convey summary nutrition information. The project included a scan and synthesis of the research literature, in-depth discussions with experts, a rigorous assessment of existing front-of-package summary systems, and development and testing of summary front-of-package algorithms to rate and rank the nutritional quality of foods.

Evaluation Planning and Tools for Front of Package Nutrition Labeling Initiatives

For DHHS, ASPE, RTI developed a multiphased plan to help FDA evaluate and monitor manufacturers’ and retailers’ adoption of front-of-package nutrition labeling in the marketplace, consumer use and understanding of the labeling, and potential product reformulation resulting from the labeling.

Experimental Study on Consumer Response to Nutrition Symbols

For FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, RTI conducted an experimental study to evaluate various front-of-package nutrition labeling schemes. The study examined how different nutritional information and design features influence consumer food choices.

Gluten-Free Labeling of Food Products Experimental Study

For FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, RTI conducted an experimental study to assess consumers' perceptions and understanding of "gluten-free" claims and other allergen statements on food product labels. The study was conducted with both average consumers and individuals with celiac disease.

Consumer Research on Public Health Messages for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products

For USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, RTI conducted consumer focus groups to evaluate consumers' understanding of several labeling features regarding the safe handling of meat, poultry, and egg products, including preparation instructions for prepared but not-ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, safe cooking temperatures for raw meat, the "natural" claim, and labeling of meat products packaged using carbon monoxide.

Consumer Research on Labeling for Processed Meat and Poultry Products

For USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, RTI conducted focus groups to collect information on consumers' understanding of labeling terms and features of not-ready-to-eat foods. Also, RTI evaluated alternative labeling terms and features that convey that not-ready-to-eat products require cooking for safety.

Labeling Cost Model for FDA-Regulated Consumer Products

For FDA, RTI developed an operational model that allows FDA to estimate costs associated with labeling changes required for consumer products under FDA's jurisdiction, including cosmetics, dietary supplements, food, medical devices, over-the-counter medications, pet food, and tobacco products. Based on the user-selected inputs, the model provides estimates of the costs to industry of changing labeling information for selected product types, types of labeling changes, compliance periods, and other parameters.

RTI iSHOPPE™ Software

RTI iSHOPPE is a virtual reality-based consumer research tool developed by RTI for conducting research on consumer purchase decisions. Researchers can use RTI iSHOPPE to explore consumers' understanding of new labeling features, design and test variations of food labels to evaluate consumer response to alternative labeling formats prior to mandating label changes, and assess consumers' preferences for foods with varying nutritional profiles.