It seems like gluten-free and allergen-free apps for smartphones are popping up everywhere. The latest addition to the food sensitivity app scene is Fooducate’s Allergy and Gluten-Free Scanner App. To get the true experience, I decided to download it and give it a try.
When I first saw “scanner” in the app name, I thought it would be something like the QR code readers; scan, go to a website for more information, interpret on your own. Fooducate’s app is nothing like that and not at all what I expected (in a good way). After you download it, the app asks for some information about your age, weight, height, gender, and of course, your food allergy information. After you enter all your information, you’re ready to get to scanning.
Before I started scanning, the app popped up with a notification saying “Shake for Random Product.” Curious to see what it did, I shook my phone. Sure enough, up popped a random gluten-free bread option. I proceeded to shake my phone for about five minutes before moving on. With over 200,000 products in Fooducate’s database, you’re bound to find new products you’ve never heard of before.
When I finally stopped shaking my phone, I scanned a box of mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, that product was not in Fooducate’s database. What surprised me though, was that the app didn’t just say “Sorry, not found. Next?” It actually prompted me to take 3 pictures of the product; one for the ingredients, the front of the box, and the nutrition label. After you take the pictures, it automatically goes to Fooducate and they get working on adding the product to the database. Pretty cool, right? This is probably my favorite part of the app. It’s not stagnant; users are constantly uploading photos so they can be added to the database.
Way too amused by the “Shake for Random Product feature,” I shook my phone again and my result was Chobani’s Non-Fat Greek Blueberry Yogurt. Not only did the app let me know that the yogurt is gluten-free, but it also gave it a grade based on nutrition facts. If you check out the picture below, you’ll see all the different things it tells you in a glance about the product.
One thing that instantly stood out was the line “Gluten free. Tap to discuss.” I tapped to discuss, and Fooducate had a note stating the manufacturer has verified the product is gluten-free. What’s really cool (can you tell I’m excited about this app?) is the “Contact Manufacturer” button in the top right corner. With one touch, the manufacturer’s name, phone number and website come up. No more scouring the web for contact information! This is an amazing feature for the times you see those tricky “may contain” warning labels.
I think it goes without saying that I’m a major fan of the Fooducate app. It’s a handy tool for the newly diagnosed, but gluten-free diet veterans can find this helpful, especially with the random product feature. I still tend to err on the side of caution, so I strongly recommend using the “Contact Manufacturer” feature often and still reading the ingredient label for yourself.
You can get more information on the app and download it in the iTunes store (it’s only available for iPhones). It costs $4.99 for the download, but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it.