There’s one major downfall to this convenient shopping option.
“Information required to be provided to consumers in conventional grocery stores is not being uniformly provided online—in fact, it only appears on roughly a third of the online grocery items we surveyed,” said lead author of the study, Jennifer Pomeranz, an assistant professor of public health policy and management at the NYU School of Global Public Health.
This may mean that online grocery shopping can potentially lead you to unknowingly make less healthy choices. For example, if you’re following a low sodium diet due to blood pressure issues, you may not be able to recognize which items are best for you to purchase since the nutritional values aren’t listed.
“Labeling requirements are intended to protect consumers who are largely unable to protect themselves,” Pomeranz said. “This is even more salient for online sales where consumers cannot directly inspect products. At a minimum, the entire required nutritional information panel should be made visible and legible for consumers shopping for their groceries online.”
Online grocery shopping was already gaining momentum before COVID-19 emerged, but now researchers predict that up to nearly 22% of all grocery shoppers will switch to online by 2025.
“Our study shows that the online food shopping environment today is a bit of a ‘Wild West,’ with incomplete and inconsistent provision of required nutrition information to consumers,” said the study’s senior author, Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School. “Online shopping will only continue to grow, and this creates an excellent opportunity to positively influence consumers to make healthy and safe choices. We need to leverage this chance to help make progress against the nutrition-related health crisis in this country.”
For more, check out the 5 Healthiest New Trader Joe’s Foods, According to Dietitians.