How do Consumers Define “Clean” When it Comes to Food Labels?

Clean-eating is here to stay. While a clean-eating diet spurs the growth of gluten-free, vegan and paleo diets, most consumers consider clean-eating as a lifestyle rather than a trend.

While there is no universal definition for clean-eating, it is commonly defined as a diet that includes whole foods that are closest to nature in their least-processed state. According to Registered Dietitian and Doctor of Public Health, Wendy Bazilian, clean-eating means ‘eating more wholesome, simpler and minimally-processed foods, and avoiding highly-processed foods’, (which have nutrient-rich ingredients replaced with undesirable ingredients).

Alternatives to grain-based flours coincide with clean-eating trends. Seeds, nuts and root vegetables are used to replace less-desirable ingredients. Varieties include:

  • Cassava
  • Root vegetables (jicama, sweet potatoes, parsnips)
  • Green banana flour
  • Coffee flours

According to survey results from global measurement and data analytics company, Label Insights, 68% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for foods and beverages that don’t contain ingredients they perceive as bad for them. Packaged goods are accepted as a part of consumers clean-eating lifestyle – they focus on the label, product messaging and transparency about the product ingredients and practices.


How do consumers define clean when it comes to food labels?

As consumers are more educated than ever, easy to read labels with simple ingredients are a driving factor for consumers with a clean-eating diet. Shoppers who follow a clean-eating lifestyle look for ingredients they recognize or would use when cooking at home, and labels typically include the ‘free-from’ claim. For example, products free from added artificial ingredients (such as colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners). Some clean-eating dedicated consumers focus on products labels that list few ingredients, using qualifiers including 10 ingredients or less.  According to data summarized from Nielsen and Label Insight, The USDA Certified Organic seal is often important for many consumers who follow a clean-eating diet, especially with packaged food. As education amongst consumers is always increasing, “clean-eaters” take the qualifications a step further and focus on the company’s transparency – such as certifications that validate the product’s purity, quality and nutritional profile remains intact during the production process.

Firebird Mills product selection and integrity of certifications

Clean-eating often eliminates refined grains or flour from the diet and includes whole grains only. Whole grains contain the bran and the germ, not just the endosperm. A few examples of whole grains include amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice and teff. There is a rise in consumers experiencing ‘claim fatigue’ while shopping – according to Mintel US research, only 44% of consumers trust claims on food and beverage products and there is a general mistrust of vague claims such as ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’. Consumers who follow clean-eating lifestyles focus on claims and certifications that prove worthy of their trust through verification. The AA BRC certified label on Firebird products qualifies Firebird against a rigorous audit for the global standard of food safety, auditing its quality management, the control process, site standards, and allergen control. This assessment ensures allergen and chemical contamination is tested annually. Other packaging requirements that are considered standard for all Firebird products include ‘Top 8 Allergen-Free’. Firebird products are mixed, milled and packaged on-site in a dedicated allergen-free and ICS Gluten-Free certified facility – this closed-loop system of mill to sealed package ensures zero-risk of cross-contamination amongst products or with gluten, protecting gluten-free customers who follow clean-eating lifestyles as well.

Firebird Mills natural treatment process standards ensure products remain clean. The Firebird team is dedicated to help gluten-free or allergen-free manufacturers produce the highest quality products.  

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