mobile phone apps

FoodSwitch, a free app for smartphones, was launched last week. The app help shoppers make better food choices by allowing users to scan barcodes of tens of thousands of food products and instantly see whether there are healthier alternatives available.

The app has been created by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH), in collaboration the George Institute of Global Health, the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, The British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, Nuffield Department of Population Health & Nuffield Department of Primary Care, University of Oxford.

FoodSwitch allows people to use their smartphone camera to scan the barcode of a product and get clear nutritional information on over 80,000 packaged food and drinks sold in supermarkets.

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By Tanja Schneider.

As part of our new research into ‘Emerging forms of food consumer behaviour and food governance’ supported by the Oxford Martin Future of Food Programme, we are exploring what kinds of information and communication technologies are available to assist consumers in gathering and exchanging knowledge on a broad spectrum of food issues. We are particularly interested in learning more about consumers’ use of mobile phone apps, online consumer organisations and databases and other websites that provide information on food content, price, availability etc. Related to this, some of you may have seen our invitation to participate in a short online survey to share with us what about food matters most to you and how you go about finding out relevant information with or without the use of new ICTs.

Based on the information you provided in the survey (we are still looking for more participants!) and our own mapping of potential ICT-enabled sources of food information, we recently have become interested in a number of mobile apps, how they work, what they allow consumers to do and for whom these might be of interest and relevance. So one of our OFG team, Tanja, set out to test some apps in her everyday consumer life, took notes and offered to report back her experiences to the group. We decided to share her report with our blog readers for further discussion, thoughts and reflections.

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