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NewsBites April 2012 Issue

Food Consumers Confuse Ethical with Healthy

Does chocolate produced by companies that pay good wages and provide health insurance to their workers have fewer calories? Of course not, but a “healthy halo” attached to ethics- related production claims such as “fair trade” may lead some consumers to think so. Researchers at California State University-Northridge conducted two small studies, of general consumers and university students, in which participants were asked to judge the calorie content of chocolates. When the chocolate was labeled as “fair trade” or the producer was described as treating its workers equitably, participants rated the chocolate as being lower in calories. Researchers noted that “there is relatively little government regulation of ethics or values-based claims” in food packaging, which could be a concern if consumers mistakenly also believe such products are healthier.

TO LEARN MORE: Social Psychological and Personality Science, Jan. 3, 2012; abstract at

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