Healthier food app launched in the UK after Australian success

So many Australian shoppers have embraced the first ever smartphone app that provides healthier packaged food options in supermarkets, that the free app will now be launched in the United Kingdom.

On the eve of its international launch, the latest figures show more than 400,000 Australian shoppers have now downloaded the FoodSwitch app. It works by using the smartphone camera to scan packaged food barcodes, which prompts alternative, healthier suggestions.

Professor Bruce Neal, of The George Institute for Global Health and The University of Sydney, heads the research team that developed the app. He says: “FoodSwitch has gone gangbusters. It’s the clearest evidence yet of just how badly people want to know what’s in the food they eat. This is all the evidence government needs to go full steam ahead with its “Health Star Rating”plans for food labelling. Including getting the website straight back up.”

When the FoodSwitch app was launched in January 2012, the app had a database of 17,000 items. Through the crowd-sourcing function in the app, the database now has more than 50,000 different food products.

The app was launched in New Zealand in August last year and already nearly 40,000 people have downloaded it. The number of products in the New Zealand database has also doubled over this period.

The app, which was the number one free app download in Australia immediately after launch, has been so successful the research team is now releasing it in the UK, with nearly 90,000 food and drink products in the initial database.

Professor Neal says: “FoodSwitch is all about putting power back into the hands of the community. ;At the same time as recommending healthier alternatives to shoppers, the photographs of missing products sent in by users give us a complete picture of what’s in the food supply. This is information that used to be the preserve of industry, and that we can now use to hold big business directly to account for what they are putting on the shelves.”

“We have received more than 2000 positive feedback emails through the app with many people telling us how it has helped them with their food purchases.”