corn silo Jonathan Sureau/Flickr

Los riesgos del riesgo mal rotulado

STANFORD – Cada vez más consumidores supuestamente conscientes de la salud están eligiendo productos con rótulos que dicen "libres de", desde plásticos "libres de bisfenol A" hasta alimentos "libres de organismos modificados genéticamente". Pero este tipo de rótulos no aumentan la seguridad pública. Por el contrario, muchos de los ingredientes que asustan no sólo son perfectamente seguros, sino que los fabricantes, en su apuro por satisfacer la demanda de los consumidores, a veces utilizan ingredientes o procesos de inferior calidad -o inclusive nocivos.

La responsabilidad de esta situación recae principalmente en los activistas y los medios de información por alimentar temores públicos injustificados. Pero un estudio académico reciente demuestra que los fabricantes, al llamar la atención sobre lo que están omitiendo en un producto, perpetúan preocupaciones falsas que, en verdad, llevan a los consumidores a asumir mayores riesgos para la salud.

El estudio explora, sobre todo a través de la lente de la etiquetación de los productos, cómo evalúa la gente los riesgos del bisfenol A (BPA por su sigla en inglés) -una sustancia química que se utiliza frecuentemente para endurecer los plásticos e impedir el crecimiento de bacterias en las latas de alimentos- en comparación con sus alternativas. El estudio determinó que "la gente evalúa una situación en la que la evidencia científica está atemperada por la controversia de la misma manera que una situación en la que no existe ninguna evidencia científica". En otras palabras, como ha habido interrogantes sobre la seguridad del BPA, la gente ignora la evidencia científica de plano.

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