Decoding Food Labels with Apps

Do you ever feel confused or frustrated by food labels in the grocery store? According to a recent study, 67% of consumers find it challenging to determine whether a product meets their needs based on the food labels. Most diet-conscious consumers consult apps or websites for information tailored to their needs.

Sometimes food labels do not include the information helpful to people with certain dietary needs or preferences. Those consumers may need something beyond the macronutrients and general ingredient list. Some have sensitivities to possible proprietary ingredients (often listed as “natural flavors”, “natural and artificial flavors”, etc.)

Food labels already contain extensive information both required and voluntary. There is only so much space on a label. Also, there is more diet variation due to the range of allergies, medical needs, and nutritional preferences.  Many nutrition-conscious clients turn to apps and programs to bridge the gap.

“Label Insight’s 2017 Shopper Trends Study reveals that nearly half of consumers (49%) adhere to a particular diet or nutrition plan, and 75% avoid specific ingredients when shopping for food products. But, 67% of consumers say it is challenging to determine whether a food product meets their needs simply by looking at the package label, and nearly half of consumers (48%) consider themselves ‘not informed at all’ about a food product even after reading the label.” – Source press release by Label Insights.

Some savvy manufacturers joined SmartLabel Transparency Initiative to provide more detailed information about food, beverage, pet care, household, and personal care products. Consumers scan a QR code using their smartphone to access more detailed labels for participating products.

Credit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/study-consumers-seek-healthy-lifestyles-but-food-packaging-makes-it-difficult-300430044.html

Credit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/study-consumers-seek-healthy-lifestyles-but-food-packaging-makes-it-difficult-300430044.html

Food Label & Product Information Resources 

The Sage Project

The Sage Project is an “NYC-based platform designed to make food data more accessible to the world.”  Users set up a profile complete with nutritional goals and needs (including allergies). They present information about a range of food products compared to the user’s needs. The display is attractive, graphical and easy to read. They feature a limited set of products and they don’t appear to have a phone app.

Fooducate

Fooducate is not a new player as it has been on the scene since around 2010. It is a popular phone app for both Apple and Android users. Nutrition professionals and dietitians developed Fooducate’s grading system based on nutrient density.

Food Facts

Food Facts  Apple and Android apps provide detailed nutritional details and commentary on selected food products. In addition, Food Facts partners with health-related organizations who use their data including Kaiser Permanente, Harvard University, and Indiana Department of Education.

Food labels already show extensive nutrition information though in an abbreviated way. Initiatives like the SmartLabel Transparency Initiative offers brands an opportunity to share more detailed information with consumers. Private, independent apps and websites also bridge the gap by providing analysis and educational commentary.

 

Do you read food labels when you shop? How helpful do you find the labels? What other resources do you use?

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