‘FoodSwitch’ app adds extra features on sugar, energy and fat

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd March 2015
‘FoodSwitch’ app adds extra features on sugar, energy and fat
‘FoodSwitch’ app adds extra features on sugar, energy and fat

Australian-based food scanning app, ‘FoodSwitch’ has launched new user-requested features and Health Star Rating Products that allow consumers to find food products in supermarkets that are lower in sugar and fat.

The free health app, developed by The George Institute for Global Health and Bupa Australia, was designed to make it easier for shoppers to switch to ‘healthier’ options among packaged foods. The three new features are:

  • SugarSwitch: Lists products with less total sugar than the scanned item
  • EnergySwitch: Suggests foods with lower kilojoules to help manage energy intake
  • FatSwitch: Lists products with a lower amount of saturated fat, helping tackle high cholesterol

Australian Food News first reported the launch of the FoodSwitch app in January 2012. In April 2013, the app expanded to include a gluten-free filter.

Consumers can use Health Star Rating feature

Users of the app can now also choose to use the Health Star Rating label format, along with the ‘traffic light’ colour labelling system, to get easy-to-understand nutritional information about their favourite foods.

Health Star Rating was endorsed by the Australian government in June 2014 and is already appearing on many major food companies’ products in supermarkets. The higher the star rating, the healthier the product.

Consumer choices will ‘encourage development of healthier foods’, Professor Neal

Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute and The University of Sydney said the new features of FoodSwitch “give Australians more ways to make healthier food choices”, and with added Health Star Rating labelling people could “confidently make choices based on the industry standard”.

“FoodSwitch places the power in the hands of the consumer,” Professor Neal said. “What people buy at the checkout drives what the food industry provides. By showing Australians what’s in their food we can all push industry towards developing and marketing more nutritious products,” he said.

“Poor diet is the leading cause of ill health in Australia, a precursor to the big killers like heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” Professor Neal said. “The introduction of the Health Star Rating system is a significant milestone in the fight against this problem and like FoodSwitch helps people to take control of their health,” he said.

Alan Kirkland, CHOICE CEO, explains that Health Star Ratings are a great tool for consumers to make healthier food choices at glance.

“In absence of the Health Star Rating on many products yet, the FoodSwitch app allows you to easily compare the healthiness of packaged foods within any product category via a mobile device,” Mr Kirkland said.

App database has grown five-fold in three years since launch

The FoodSwitch app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times since its 2012 launch. The database that powers the app has grown almost five-fold in that time, in part thanks to the response from users who have sent in more than 400,000 photos of items not previously in the database.

The updated iOS app can be downloaded from the App Store. Users can also access FoodSwitch technology online at the new FoodSwitch (foodswitch.com.au) website. An Android update with the same expansion of features will follow next month.