HCBE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship


Sara Weisfeld-Spolter

Committee Member

Cynthia Ruppel

Committee Member

John Stanton


Food allergies within the United States and Europe have become exceedingly prevalent in children, adolescents, and adults. In the United States alone, over 12 million people have been diagnosed with at least one food allergy. If the allergen is accidentally consumed, the food allergy sufferer may suffer a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. More than 200 U.S. food allergic consumers die annually as a result of anaphylaxis due to ingestion of food allergens. To safely manage food allergies, food allergy sufferers and stakeholders (such as caregivers) require clear and complete ingredient information to avoid certain allergens in packaged food products. Despite U.S. legislative mandates designed to assist the food allergic consumers and stakeholders to make safe food selection choices, food allergy labeling on consumer packaged food products remains unclear. To properly manage food allergy, it is imperative that food allergy stakeholders have access to clear and unambiguous food allergen ingredients located on the food product labels. The purpose of this research was to capture the impact of current United States food allergen labeling guidelines on U.S. food allergy stakeholders. With the elaboration likelihood framework, this research aimed to better understand how the congruence of allergen ingredient information on the Product Label Claim on the front of the package and Nutrition Facts Panel information on the back of the package affected food allergic consumers and stakeholders in evaluation of product packaging allergen information. A total of 223 food allergy stakeholders were administered four surveys depicting food allergen labeling variations found on U.S. food product labels. Seventeen hypotheses were formulated and analyzed with ANCOVA and t tests to measure the impact of congruence and elaboration of the food allergen messages on the food product labels, with a specific focus on purchase intention. Findings indicated that food allergy stakeholders had difficulties using and understanding existing food allergen labels under current U.S. food allergen labeling guidelines. The results also showed confusion among U.S. food allergic stakeholders with safe food selection choices when the label claims did not align with the actual allergen ingredient information. Research, public policy, and managerial implications were thoroughly discussed.

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