Climate impact labels could help people eat less red meat | Food

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A study found that putting climate impact labels on foods such as red meat is an effective way to discourage people from making choices that harm the planet.

Policy makers have debated ways to get people to choose low-carbon foods. In April, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report urged world leaders, especially those in developed countries, to support the transition to sustainable, healthy and low-emission diets.

In Britain, the government’s food czar, Henry Dimbleby, recently said it was politically impossible for the government to tell people to stop eating meat. , used as grazing land for animals such as cattle, or to grow food for livestock. Dimbleby believes he needs a 30% reduction in meat over 10 years for land to be used sustainably in Britain, but Greenpeace says he advocates a 70% reduction. doing.

The clinical study, published in Jama Network Open, found that consumers respond well to climate labeling on food.

Participants in the study, which used a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States, were shown a fast food menu and asked to select one item they would like to order for dinner. were randomized to display a menu with one of three labels. Green low climate impact label (positive framing) on ​​poultry, fish or vegetarian items. Or display high climate impact labels on red meat products (negative framing).

The low climate impact state menu states: It emits less greenhouse gases and contributes less to climate change. The menu for high climate impact states states: It emits a lot of greenhouse gases and contributes significantly to climate change. ”

Compared with participants in the control group, 23.5% more participants chose sustainable menu items when menus were labeled with a high climate impact, and 23.5% more participants selected menu items with a low climate impact label. 9.9% more participants chose sustainable menu items when presented in Across experimental conditions, participants who chose sustainable items rated themselves healthier than those who chose unsustainable items.

Some may disagree with this labeling. Intensively produced poultry has been found to be harmful to the environment, as are some farmed fish and trawl catches.

Study authors from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University said:

“In the United States, meat consumption, especially red meat consumption, consistently exceeds recommended levels based on national dietary guidelines. Shifting to diets has the potential to reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 55%.”

They found that educating people about the negative environmental impacts of food types was more effective than educating them about food being a more sustainable choice.

The authors state: “It is better to label red meat with a negative frame with a high climate impact label than non-red meat with a green label with a low climate impact label.” We have found that they are more effective in increasing sustainable choices than labels.”

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