Recent study advises meat lovers to chose wisely

Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 7:27 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Navigating menus at restaurants or nutrition labels on products is not an easy task for consumers. There are endless food options for health trends and diets that could impact someone’s “health halo,” which is any label or marketing tool used to make the food seem healthier than it is, regardless of supportive health claims.

An associate professor of Marketing at UNR, Bret Leary, along with his colleague’s Gabriele E. Gonzales, Christopher Berry and Matthew D. Meng researched the tradeoffs between plant-based meat alternatives and traditional beef. The four professors examined the misconception of the “health halo” and published their results in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

“These helpfulness perceptions or the way that customers view these products as being more healthy for them. It actually increased their intention to buy these products,” said Bret Leary. Although plant-based meat alternatives are not considered to be bad, it is important to note the tradeoffs between both types of meats.

“Think about a plant based meat alternative, you might have less cholesterol in that patty than you would from a traditional beef,” said Leary. “But you have substantially more sodium in that PBMA, plant based meat alternative.”

Researchers urge consumers to read beyond the fine print. “Traditional methods of just providing this information in hopes that customers use it isn’t necessarily going to work. So we’re trying to encourage more active information process,” added Leary.