Food products that bear organic labels lead most consumers to believe that they are healthier and better tasting than their non-organic counterparts. A study recently released by Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management found that when consumers see an organic label, they believe the item is higher in fiber and contains less fat and calories, even on items that are typically considered unhealthy.
"The emergence and growing popularity of organic snack foods has led to some concern, as these foods may not necessarily be healthier than their non-organic counterparts, but still may lead consumers to be susceptible to nutritional misjudgements," said Jenny Wan-Chen Lee, the Cornell graduate student who conducted the study, Health News noted.
"If people perceive a food to be more nutritious they tend to let their guard down when it comes to counting calories - ultimately leading them to overeat or feel entitled to indulge," she added.
The study asked 144 consumers to compare organic and conventional labeling on cookies, potato chips and yogurt. All of the products were organic, although some were not labeled as such. Those products that were labeled organic received higher rankings in terms of perceived healthfulness and taste.