Online grocery shopping was already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that we’re entering the third year of the global health crisis, the trend has grown even more. Being able to get groceries delivered right to your door is not only convenient but also safer than going out to the grocery store in the midst of a pandemic.
But a new study published in public health nutrition He found that there was one major drawback to this convenient shopping option. The majority of online grocery retailers do not have nutritional facts, ingredients, and allergen information readily available on online product listings—a factor required by US law to appear on physical food product packaging in all conventional stores. Keep reading to learn more about this issue, then check out these six things you’ll see at Costco this year.
To better understand the information that appears on products sold by online grocers, researchers from New York University’s School of Global Public Health and Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy analyzed 10 major products across nine major online grocery retailers. Focus on bread, cereal, and drinks to study.
On average, nutrition facts appear online only 36.5% of the time. Potential allergens were detected only on 11.4% of the products in the study.
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said the study’s lead author, Jennifer Pomeranz, assistant professor of public health policy and management at New York University’s School of Global Public Health.
This could mean that buying groceries online can inadvertently lead you to make less healthy choices. For example, if you’re on a low-sodium diet because of blood pressure issues, you may not be able to tell which items are best for you to buy because nutritional values aren’t listed.
“Labeling requirements are intended to protect consumers who are largely unable to protect themselves,” Pomerans said. “This is more prominent for online sales where consumers cannot directly inspect products. At a minimum, the entire required nutritional information panel should be made visible and easy to read for consumers shopping for groceries online.”
Online grocery shopping was already gaining momentum before the onset of COVID-19, but researchers now predict that nearly 22% of all grocery shoppers will switch online by 2025.
“Our study shows that today’s online food shopping environment is a kind of ‘wild west,’ with incomplete and inconsistent provision of required nutrition information to consumers,” said the study’s senior author, Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of Friedman College. “Online shopping will only continue to grow, and this creates an excellent opportunity to positively influence consumers to make healthy and safe choices. We need to take advantage of this opportunity to help make progress against the nutrition-related health crisis in this country.”
For more, check out Joe’s New Trader’s Top 5 Healthiest Foods, According to Nutritionists.