Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Product Nutrition Search

When I seek nutrition information on a product, the best way is a simple text entry box in which to type the product name. Perhaps this method doesn't work for some people so, in an attempt to make things easier, some websites have created other ways to get nutrition information.

As promised in yesterday's Manwich update, I thought we'd take a peek at the ConAgra Product Nutrition Search to see how it works. Here is a screen shot from their website
To find nutrition information you have two choices: one-click search and advanced search. One-click sounds easy and look they have nifty sub-categories to help consumers: fat free, low fat, good source of protein, low cholesterol, sodium controlled, good source of fiber. Let's take a look, shall we?

Under the fat free category, the first results are: Egg Beaters, PAM (such a tasty meal choice), La Choy bamboo shoots. Hmmmmm. Is this helpful? Would a consumer, in an attempt to make more healthful food choices go to this website, find something fat free and then go and buy it?

I contend this is exactly what ConAgra is hoping for and spent quite a tidy sum of money on website design for. Does this tool actually help people make better food choices? If I was told to eat a fat free diet, would I use this tool to make my shopping list? Perhaps if I was a consumer without an good understanding of nutrition. Perhaps the first thing on the list should be actual, whole, real foods (like vegetables) and a way to educate consumers about those food choices. And, why in the world is PAM on this list? It isn't food.

I was curious about the nutrition information for Hunt's Basil, Garlic and Oregano sauce so I clicked on the little "i"to dig a bit deeper.

When you click the "i" you are rewarded with a pop-up box of the product label as shown on the left.
What is most interesting about this label? It does not show what is actually in the can. I guess the website designers thought an ingredient list would be too much information. Unless of course, someone didn't want "high fructose corn syrup" to appear in print on a website. Or the spurious term "spices" which can mean a whole bunch of things you really don't want to consume.

I am left curious and would love your thoughts. Is this information helpful? Will it guide a consumer to make better food choices? Or, do you think it is a clever way to "help" consumers make a shopping list of ConAgra produced food based on somewhat questionable health claims?

Tomorrow? The advanced search. Stay tuned!

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