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New app tells you to look before you eat

Published : Dec 15, 2015, 12:46 am IST
Updated : Dec 15, 2015, 12:46 am IST

In a refreshing twist to what the ubiquitous food tech startups offer these days, here’s an app that does something more meaningful than satisfying your craving for food—it asks you to take a moment a

In a refreshing twist to what the ubiquitous food tech startups offer these days, here’s an app that does something more meaningful than satisfying your craving for food—it asks you to take a moment and see what you are eating.

As an app on your phone that can read nutritional content, FoodSwitch brings to the food-tech space an essential element of knowing your food, not just by the face of it, but by its content.

The app requires consumer to scan barcode of consumable packaged food and shows nutritional information about the food product, also identifying vegetarian food items. It also informs consumers about healthier alternatives through nutrient profiling. Over 11 million people die due to poor diets as against 4 million deaths caused by tobacco. Out of these large numbers of deaths are caused by over nutrition due to higher intake of salt, sugar, fat and other values. FoodSwitch is the brainchild of Professor Bruce Neal, senior director at The George Institute for Global Health.

“The only way to counter this trend is by bringing in behavioural change in people. FoodSwitch will help bring along this change and awareness,” says Professor Neal.

Populating data on the app through crowd sourcing, FoodSwitch collects data for products through consumer submissions, compiles it into a database, and uses data-analytics to enlist nutritional parameters and alternative choices. Getting data from consumers can also be used to identify consumer behavior.

FoodSwitch has been launched in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South Africa before its recent launch in India. “In India, we need to work towards improving the quality of the nutrition label in packed foods. Our first goal will be to lobby for better labelling of products,” said Professor Neal.

Available on iOS and Android phones for free download, the app is backed by a database of about 10,000 packaged foods compiled in collaboration with the Centre for Chronic Disease Control in India. If a scanned product is not in the database, consumers can use the phone camera to send in photos that could be added to the database. The data behind the FoodSwitch app also supports programs by the food industry and government designed to improve the healthiness of packaged food.

Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru