being a fatty fish (see Chapter 1). Other guidance cautions some consumers against specific types of seafood due to health risks. As shown in preceding chapters, different populations have different benefit-risk profiles, and guidance to consumers should be tailored to reflect this.
Receiving new information, such as dietary guidance, does not automatically lead consumers to change their food consumption patterns. Food choice is influenced by a complex informational environment that also includes labeling, point-of-purchase information, commercial advertising and promotion, and Web-based health information. Specific guidance may have a limited impact, although evidence suggests that this varies significantly and in general is not well measured or understood; current advice may create unintended consequences in consumer choices. A better understanding of the sociocultural, environmental, economic, and other individual factors that influence consumer choice is necessary for the design of effective consumer guidance, especially where the intent is to communicate balancing of benefits and risks associated with its consumption.
Studies of food choice behavior have identified both individual and environmental factors that influence the complex process of decision making (Lutz et al., 1995; Galef, 1996; Drewnowski, 1997; Nestle et al., 1998; Booth et al., 2001; Wetter et al., 2001; Bisogni et al., 2002; Devine, 2005; Raine, 2005; Shepard, 2005). Factors influencing seafood consumption choices are similar to those for other foods (e.g., taste, convenience, or ease of preparation) (Gempesaw et al., 1995).
Individual Influences When consumers are asked what is most important when choosing food, taste is the most likely response (Drewnowski, 1997). However, a variety of other individual factors (e.g., habit) (Honkanen et al., 2005) also influence consumer decisions about consumption or avoidance of specific foods (Lutz et al., 1995; Galef, 1996; Drewnowski, 1997; Nestle et al., 1998; Booth et al., 2001; Bisogni et al., 2002; Devine, 2005). For example, some people will override taste to select foods to benefit their health (Stewart-Knox et al., 2005). The choice for healthfulness is further affected by choice of preparation method and food consumption outside the home (Blisard et al., 2002). For other consumers, issues of convenience, availability, and cost may play greater roles than concerns about health. What is unknown is the degree to which these factors determine final food selection.