01.App offers traffic light information
Consumers can now use their iPhones to scan food barcodes and instantly see traffic light information thanks to an app developed by The George Institute and Bupa.
The FoodSwitch app was launched by health researcher The George Institute for Global Health and insurance company Bupa on 18 January.
Consumers with iPhones can scan the barcodes of food products at the supermarket – or in their own pantry – and instantly see traffic light information. The app also suggests healthier alternatives and allows shoppers to save products to lists.
FoodSwitch contains traffic light information for over 20,000 products based on the nutritional information stored in The George Institute’s database. If users come across a product for which information is not available, the app prompts them to take a couple of photos which allow The George Institute to add the product.
The app can be downloaded from the App Store by searching ‘FoodSwitch’, and from the Bupa website. We are advised that Android versions will be included in updates.
CHOICE has been campaigning for traffic light-style labelling on the front of food products and we were pleased to see food and health ministers from around Australia and New Zealand commit to the introduction of an interpretive front-of-pack labelling system. Interpretive systems like traffic lights translate the complex, numerical information on the back of food labels and present the information in a format that can be understood at a glance.
Ministers want the new system to be agreed on by the end of 2012 and CHOICE will continue to advocate for effective, interpretive front-of-pack labelling. In the meantime, we welcome the FoodSwitch app as it will provide consumers who have iPhones with a tool that will help them make healthier decisions.
Have you used the FoodSwitch app? How did you find it? Let us know in a comment below.