News

Fast check for allergic consumers

Published on
October 16, 2013
By
Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research

Stichting Voedselallergie and Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research are currently developing the Allergie-Checker, an app that helps allergic consumers with their day-to-day shopping and makes it easier for them to make safe choices.

Homepage allergie-checker

People with allergies do not always find food shopping easy: the letters on the labels tend to be very small and the important information is not available at a glance. But a number of partners are now developing the Allergie-Checker, an app that will make allergy information more accessible and convenient by tuning in to the personal profile of allergic consumers.

The partners in the project are: the Netherlands Nutrition Centre, FoodShopper, caterer Sodexo, Jumbo Supermarkets, LEI Wageningen UR and IT developers Noldus, Q-Ray and Mobihealth. People with allergies are closely involved in developing the app to make sure it will meet their needs and expectations.

How does it work?

The app for a smartphone or tablet/computer enables users to compile a personal profile per family. Allergic consumers can indicate the allergens that cause problems in their profile, their level of allergy (product contains the allergen or product contains traces of the allergen) and how they want the information to appear (what can or cannot be eaten). The information that the user is given about the suitability of a product is entirely in line with the profile that has been entered.

Consumers use their smart phone to scan the barcode on the packaging and obtain information about the product’s suitability. They can also search for product information at home to make shopping even easier.    

Databases

The app has been developed using information from the Netherlands Nutrition Centre food database and databases from Jumbo Supermarkets and Sodexo. The Allergie-Checker currently comprises product information relating to almost 30,000 items, and the designers hope to expand the sources of information on an ongoing basis. A separate interpretation layer is used to interpret the data in the databases and combine the information. This allows new databases to be added without the need for new software. New functionalities can also be introduced without too many modifications to the app’s software.

User-friendly

The app is fast and provides instant information about the allergens in the product. A number of psychological principles have been used to make the app user-friendly and intuitive: the Allergie-Checker provides information at different levels and in various presentation styles, but is always very clear about the origins of the data.

Prototype

Food & Biobased Research presented the prototype of the app on 12 October during the Stichting Voedselallergie family day. This prototype will be tested by a group of allergic consumers in November of this year, and their experiences will be incorporated into the ongoing development of the app.