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Consumers Fooled By “Halo Effect” Of Organic Label

April 10, 2011: 05:21 AM EST
A researcher at Cornell University has found a “halo effect” when consumers judge sensory characteristics of foods labeled organic: the label seems to persuade people that because a food is organic it must be tastier and lower in calories. She conducted a double-blind, controlled trial in which she asked 144 subjects at a mall to compare what they thought were conventionally and organically produced foods. All products were organic, but labeled "regular" or "organic." Participants rated each food for 10 attributes, including taste, perception of fat content, calories, price, etc. The subjects said they preferred almost all of the taste characteristics of the organically-labeled foods, though they were identical to the conventionally-labeled counterparts. The "organic"  foods were also perceived as lower in calories and higher in price.
"The health halo effect: Don't judge a food by its organic label", Press release, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, April 10, 2011, © FASEB
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