15 April 2015

Developing an app for smart food choices


In a new research project, FoodSMART, European scientists are working together to create an app to optimise the food choices made by consumers.

Imagine you are in the work canteen considering which food to choose. Should you go for the healthy looking meal with a lot of vegetables or should you dive into the big red steak with baked potatoes? And what will you have for dessert – a banana or the delicious looking carrot cake? One thing is you already have a good clue, as your cholesterol level, according to your doctor, is a bit high. Another thing is to actually know for sure right there on the spot.

FoodSMART is aiming to provide you with exactly that personal piece of information as quickly as you can scan the QR code on the different meals with your mobile phone. Equipped with your personal data, the app will tell you what the different meals will mean for your health.

FoodSMART is a four-year project with researchers from Austria (Ronge & Partner, SME), Denmark (UCPH-FOOD), France (Research Centre of the Institut Paul Bocuse), Greece (Hellenic Health Foundation), and the UK (Bournemouth University, and project coordinator) aiming to develop an ICT solution, like a mobile phone application, designed to provide food service providers and consumers with a variety of food-related information.

An app with built-in respect for the environment

“If you are a fierce environmentalist, the app could provide you with the carbon footprint of each meal, so you can choose in harmony with your conscience,” said Associate Professor F. J. Armando Perez-Cueto, head of the project at Copenhagen University’s Department of Food Science.

The app will provide consumers with nutritional values, allergen information, food provenance, and carbon footprint. The application will be tested for acceptance and usability in all participating countries.

“My hope is that the project will change the level of information that is written on food packages. I am dreaming of the day when you only have to read a QR code with you mobile application and you will get important information about the food you are about to buy in the office canteen – or in the supermarket,” he continued. 

Generating mobility among young researchers

This European project is funded by the Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) program of Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

“The idea of this program is to generate mobility. It facilitates industry to go into academia and vice versa – and that scientists and students travel and work in other countries. The philosophy is to create a European identity – between sectors and between countries and to create willingness to travel for jobs,” said F. J. Armando Perez-Cueto.