Food & Agriculture

Food Labelling

A cafeteria employee hands food to a student at Polytechnique Montreal university on December 1, 2022.

Canadian university identifies low carbon foods for student meals

Polytechnique Montreal students can now select cafeteria meals based on information about their carbon footprint. “I’m surprised to see that a dish with meat is better than a vegetarian dish,” comments Elizabeth Labonte, a chemical engineering student, referring to their environmental impact. Every Thursday, three hot meal options receive a grade from A to F which corresponds “to a range of equivalent CO2 emissions in kilograms,” explains Patrick Cigana of the school’s Office of Sustainable Development. Supported by the student body, the project aims to educate and raise awareness, says Cigana.

In order to calculate the carbon footprint of each dish, the engineering school had each recipe analysed by the on-campus International Reference Center for Life Cycle Analysis and Sustainable Transition (CIRAIG). A small team of researchers and students were able to calculate the carbon footprint of each ingredient based on previously compiled data bases.

Often misunderstood, the food system—including production, packaging and distribution—represents the “primary source of greenhouse gas emissions at the global level,” according to Carole-Anne Lapierre, an agriculture and food systems analyst at Equiterre. By better informing students, Polytechnique Montreal hopes to help them make better food choices.

Example of image shown to consumers for Oregon State University study. Credit: Oregon State University

Labels boost artisanal cheese sales

Consumers are willing to pay more for familiar, versus unfamiliar, varieties of cheese if there is a sticker on the cheese indicating it won an award or if sensory information about the cheese—such as a description of its taste or food pairing suggestions—is included, a new study from Oregon State University shows. The study also identified two broad groups of consumers whose cheese buying preferences differ. A group that prefers unfamiliar foods is willing to pay a premium for unfamiliar cheeses and an award sticker plays a much more important role than sensory information. The opposite is true for consumers who prefer familiar cheese varieties: sensory information play a much stronger role in willingness to pay more. The research was published in Science Direct.

4 replies on “Food Labelling”

Sometimes, for sure. But the government-mandated labels regarding ingredients, nutrition and calories can be very useful, especially for people with allergies or food sensitivities.


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