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SmartLabels on the Horizon

The current controversy about labeling foods as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) has been a hot topic for a very long time. Biotech and  food industries have spent millions of dollars opposing labeling initiatives and are fighting tooth and nail to block a state's rights to label GMOs. However, in a recent survey, nearly 90% of consumers still want to know if they are consuming foods with genetically modified ingredients.

Just recently, in a huge turnaround, The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which includes more than 30 food giants such as Pepsi, ConAgra, Hormel, Campbell Soup, Land O’Lakes, Coca Cola, Nestle and Hershey have signed on to be a part of the “SmartLabel Initiative".  Meaning they want to present consumers (you and me) with instantaneous access to detailed information on over 30,000 products by the end of 2017.  This voluntary program would allow shoppers using their smartphones to scan a code called a QR code* or that square bar code, to find out ingredients, allergens, animal welfare, environmental policies and whether the food contains GMOs.

The information stored in these QR codes will also be available on the web and, in some stores, at their customer service desks.  This is a great move for those avoiding gluten in their diet and may save you a call to the manufacturer’s customer service every time there’s an ingredient that is “iffy” or a “hidden” source of gluten.  Like artificial colors or flavors, natural flavors, or food starch.

There have been several apps that have come to market to help you figure out if there’s gluten in a particular food item, now that food item will have it’s own detective, the SmartLabel.

It may not be the end all for people with CD or gluten sensitivity, but it seems like our market is moving in the right direction.  Don’t throw away your gluten finding apps yet, but hope is in the air!!!

In the meantime, here is a very short list of some helpful apps to determine if there’s gluten, allergens or high FODMAP items lurking in foods and restaurants

Gluten Free Registry ($0.99 for iPhone, $0.99 for Android): Available for both iPhone and Android, the Gluten Free Registry is a handy database of gluten-free restaurants, coffeehouses, grocers, caterers, and more. With more than 45,000+ business locations listed, it simplifies the users’ search for a place to dine or order food. Users can read reviews and ratings by the gluten-free community, post their own reviews, view gluten-free restaurant menus, and instantly call the business or peruse the website from their phone.

Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner (Free): This ShopWell app for the iPhone can help clients find foods to fit their specific dietary needs at the grocery store. The app identifies foods that contain gluten and then displays a red hand symbol so clients know to avoid them.

iCanEat Fast Food Gluten Free & Allergen Free ($4.99): With this handy iPhone app, users can enter their allergen concerns and find safe items to eat at popular fast-food style restaurants.

iEatOut Gluten Free & Allergen Free ($4.99): This app (also part of the Let’s Eat Out! series) was designed for the diner who misses “eating anywhere.” The iPhone app can be customized based on any combination of 10 common food allergens (including gluten, of course).

Is that Gluten Free? ($7.99): This iPhone app features a database of 34,500 gluten-free products from more than 1,480 brands, making it a great app for grocery store shopping. Users can search by category, brand, or product name and can rate and add notes to products. Comments from manufacturers appear about the gluten-free foods, cross-contamination, and other topics.

FODMAP Diet App (Free) Luke Fabish has designed an app to search for foods that may trigger IBS symptoms like High FODMAP food items and has some low-FODMAP recipe suggestions too.

 

*QR codes are Quick Response Codes that are a two-dimensional barcode.  It has a fast readability and greater storage capacity compared with the standard barcode, which can be read  by imaging devices like a camera or scanner.