App for healthier food choices gets Indian touch

FoodSwitch app will show level of salt, sugar and fat in a food product

sonal

Sonal Matharu | December 3, 2015



An international app has been modified to suit Indian needs and it will guide consumers to shop for healthier food options and avoid chronic lifestyle diseases.

FoodSwitch app designed by the George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, breaks down the ingredients of food product into simple components of sugar, salt and fat and shows through colour coding whether the product has permissible limits of salt, sugar, fat or not.

The app, which took six months to be modified to suit the Indian needs, is designed to cover all foods that come to India and are available for sale in the markets. It is not limited to the food products manufactured here, said Vivekanand Jha, executive director, George Institute for Global Health.

FoodSwitch has a database of about 10,000 packaged food products compiled in collaboration with the Centre for Chronic Disease Control, a Delhi-based non-profit research organization and Public Health Foundation of India, a public-private health think tank.  It is available free of cost for iOS and android phones and is funded partially by the Australia-India Council grant.

The consumers can use their phone cameras to scan the barcode at the back of the food packet and the app will show permissible limits of salt, sugar and fat per 100 grams in the pack. Green colour means that a particular component in the food packet is within the permissible limits and is safe to consume. Amber means it is not the best and there could be healthier alternatives and red indicated that the particular component is high and should be avoided.

In case a component is in red or amber, the app recommends healthier alternatives at the bottom. A special feature added to the Indian version of the app also shows whether a product is vegetarian or not through a green or brown strip on the left.

Senior director Bruce Neal at the George Institute for Global Health developed the app and said that diets rich in salt, sugar and fat are causing major health problems in India and the app will help people understand the complicated nutritional charts at the back of the food packets.

The FoodSwitch app is operational in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and has seen 6,00,000 downloads. It will be launched in China soon.

In Australia, the app developers worked closely with the government food regulatory body, the same practice was not followed in India. The app depends on the information provided by the food company on the packet. As of now, there is no way to check whether that information is authentic or not, added Neal.

The app developers, however, feel that this is a humble beginning and the information provided to consumers will help food industry improve their products. “There was no effort made to get in touch with the food industry but when the companies found out that we are developing the FoodSwitch app, they approached us themselves and asked us how they can improve their products,” said Neal.

Comments

 

Other News

Who is Eknath Shinde, the auto driver who became CM?

Hailing from Satara district of Maharashtra, Eknath Sambhaji Shinde had to leave his education midway to financially support his family. He worked as an auto rickshaw driver, a lorry driver and also said to have worked in a brewery before he came in contact with Anand Dighe, Shiv Sena’s Thane unit pr

Metro 3 car shed to stay at Aarey, say new CM Shinde

Former Maharashtra chief minister Davendra Fadnavis stunned all at a press conference Thursday and named Eknath Shinde, the rebel MLA from Shiv Sena, as the next chief minister. Though Fadnavis said he would stay out of the government, a few hours later the BJP leadership announced he would be the deputy c

Uddhav Thackeray resigns as chief minister of Maharashtra

Minutes after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test on Wednesday night, Uddhav Thackeray in a televised address resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra and also as a member of legislative council (MLC). He later drove down to Raj Bhavan and tendered his resignation to the governor Bhagat Singh Koshi

Gig workforce expected to expand to 2.35 crore by 2029-30

The gig economy has arrived in India, as the Covid-19 pandemic has propelled a flexibility of employment. As many as 77 lakh workers were engaged in the gig economy, constituting 2.6% of the non-agricultural workforce or 1.5% of the total workforce in India. The gig workforce is expected to expand to 2.35

How Antyodaya Saral is simplifying everyday life in Haryana

From obtaining an electricity connection to a driver`s licence, ration card, or old-age allowance, delivery of government schemes and services is an aspect of governance that impacts citizens at various points throughout their lives. The Haryana state government provides over 600 such schemes and services.

A blueprint of India’s economic future: From a former RBI governor

From Dependence to Self-Reliance: Mapping India’s Rise as a Global Superpower By Bimal Jalan Rupa Publications, 184 pages, Rs 695 Bimal Jalan, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has been one of our finest commentators on econom

Visionary Talk: Sanjay Pandey, Mumbai Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter