Climate Labels on Fast Food Menu Items Can Influence a Consumer's Choice to Feed Healthily

Joseph Godwin

Respondents' choices of foods that contain red meat were limited when climate labels were added to the menu.

The latest study, which includes climate labels on fast food menu items may significantly influence a consumer's choice to feed healthily.

The experiment, which was directed by a researcher at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discovered that respondents' dietary decisions were affected by the presence of climate change impact indicators on a prototype fast food menu.

A prototype fast food menu was displayed to more than 5,000 online participants, who were then instructed to select one option.

A selection without red meat on it was given to one set of respondents, while a menu with red meat on it was given to the second group. The menus were labeled as having "high climate impact" or "low climate impact," respectively.

The menu for the comparison group was unlabeled for the climate. Respondents' choices of foods containing red meat were constrained by both classifications.

In comparison to the control group, menus with "high climate impact" tags on burgers boosted non-beef choices by 23%, whereas menus with "low climate impact" tags raised non-beef preferences by about 10%.

Furthermore, individuals who made their selection of a more durable item thought it was more healthful than those who made their selection of a beef option.

The findings imply that the "high climate impact" label resonated more strongly with the respondents and was more effective in stimulating wise alternatives than the "low climate impact" tag.

According to a report, the experts also point out that climate tags may have the unintended consequence of making a selection seem healthier than it is.

Menus have long included information on climate impacts. In 2020, Just Salad and Panera Bread started marking the carbon footprints of at least some of their products. But the majority of fast food restaurants have yet to adopt this technique.

Julia Wolfson, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health and the study's primary author, made the following remark: "These results suggest that menu labeling, particularly labels warning that an item has high climate impact, can be an effective strategy for encouraging more sustainable food choices in a fast food setting."


Reyna Estrada, Restaurant Business Online, (2023 January 6th). "Climate impact labels could affect fast food choices, study finds": Adding climate labels to a menu reduced participants’ selection of red meat-containing items.

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