This idea was born when I got tired of googling for the food ingredients listed on the packaging. Instead of reading the ingredients lists and then googling mysterious names, I thought: What if there was a mobile app that could scan the UPC code of a product and give you a verdict on whether the product is “evil” or not.
A mobile app that provides an easy way for users to find out if the product they’re willing to buy has any unhealthy ingredients, and to read more about these particular ingredients.
The initial idea was to use an existing database of products that would have ingredients specified. There were quite a few potential options for databases with nutritional facts, but not that many with ingredients. I found a couple of vendors offering API access for their commercial databases with quite a democratic pricing. I tested their database in one of the grocery stores, and the results were very underwhelming.
Another option was to rely on user-generated content, similar to how MyFitnessPal allows their users to add their own products with all the nutritional information and making them available to the whole user base. However, who would want to add a new product and select all of its ingredients manually? Nobody.
As a result, I decided to archive this project.
- Try to check technology feasibility along the way to avoid wasting time.
- More people are concerned about nutritional facts than ingredients, though latter may be more harmful. I wonder if this is because the food industry steers attention away from ingredients and keeps the terminology boring and confusing on purpose, so consumers don’t want to dig into the details.
- Potentially, an interesting business model – create (and maintain) a database of some sorts and charge users for using data through APIs.
PS I am still in need of such tool, almost daily.