Australia’s food labelling requirements are not explicitly extended to online settings. The extent to which labelling information is available in these increasingly important food environments has been assessed for the first time, revealing a disturbing lack of food allergen information on products sold online.
The research, conducted across the online aisles of major supermarkets including Coles and Woolworths, found only half of the analysed products displayed proper allergen labelling. Only a third provided complete ingredient lists.
The research also found that even when allergen information was made available online, it was often hidden or buried deep within product descriptions, making it a frustrating and time-consuming exercise to find.
Analysis of more than 22,000 products was undertaken for the study in a broader assessment of the completeness of food labelling in online supermarkets in Australia.
Faced with such a lack of information, people purchasing food for those with food allergies may not be able to take advantage of online shopping services or might avoid entire food categories out of fear. The study has highlighted a critical need for current regulations to include digital settings so online shoppers can make informed choices.
Reference: Maganja, et al. Current food labelling practices in online supermarkets in Australia. 2023. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act Vol. 20, 105. doi.10.1186/s12966-023-01504-3.
Also see the UNSW website for a media release about the research findings.