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Innovative FoodFacts.com Coming To Your Food Labels And iPhone

Published on Saturday, 21 April 2012 22:00

 

Sodium Benzoate, Maltodextrin, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Autolyzed, and Propylene Glycol. God bless you?

Unfortunately, a consumer being able to define an ingredient is not a prerequisite for food manufacturing. Not many understand this better than Stan Rak, founder of foodfacts.com.

 

"A few years back, the kids came over, and like a good Grandfather I would give them potato chips and everything else. One was sitting on my lap and I gave him those yellow Fritos, and they [the kids] got it all over their face and hands, so I was laughing at it, and then all of the sudden I thought, I wonder what the heck that is?"

 

It was yellow 5, and this very question led to further exploration and research of the food around Mr. Rak's house. Ultimately, his research findings led to the creation of the most innovative nutritional websites to be found.

 

Foodfacts.com uses an algorithm to factor nutritional data and quality of ingredients. The website rates over 50,000 brand name products and lets you in on what manufacturers are fine with you not knowing.

 

For instance, Emeril's Gaaahlic Lovers Medium Salsa [16 oz] receives a thumbs down with a health score of 48 out of 100. Foodfacts.com follows up by stating that this product is high in sugar, high in sodium, and has controversial ingredients. The website dives into the facts and explains why an ingredient is controversial, and it explains how a particular ingredient is good for you. Also, for those watching their weight, you can even view the Weight Watchers Winning Points ® Value.

 

This concept does not stop there. Mr. Rak told Jacksonville Fresh Foods that an iPhone application is very near completion (about 3 weeks). "The idea of the iPhone [application] will be to bring up the product picture, name, and score immediately. Right under that will be the ingredients and nutrition facts." This application will allow you to stand in your grocery store, scan your product bar code, and instantly get the real deal about what you are about to buy.

 

Soon, you may not even have to use your iPhone. In a recent press release, foodfacts.com announced that 1-2-3 Gluten Free products will soon carry the FoodFacts Health Score on their labels. This is the first public announcement regarding a partnership, but Mr. Rak says there are about 20 other manufacturers seriously interested, and foodfacts.com has received almost 1,000 other inquiries since the press release.

With that, the question must be asked, how do you get manufacturers with low product health scores to participate?

 

"I'm sure we are not going to get McDonald's, but a few of the ones we are talking to are changing some of their ingredients, especially getting rid of artificial flavor and artificial coloring--- which will bring down your score. They are getting rid of that and actually putting what the ingredient is ..." says Mr. Rak.

 

Mr. Rak adds, "This is legit, and we keep a policy. You cannot come in here and say, 'Here's $5,000, give me a better score.' This is a free site, and we are not asking anyone for money. For me, this is a hobby ..."

 

This may be a hobby for Mr. Rak, but he definitely does not play lightly or alone. His Board of Advisors consists of Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, PhD, RD, FADA, Professor of Nutrition/Extension Specialist, Rutgers University and Lisa C. Cohn, MMSc, MEd, RD, President Park Avenue Nutrition.

Not only does foodfacts.com offer you insight on what you're eating, but it also offers a nutritional planner, weight tracker, and an allergy alert for your profile.

 

Is this a Food Facts revolution? Mr. Rak hopes so, and so do we.

 

"Some ingredients are banned in Europe, banned in Singapore, banned in Canada, banned in Australia, and yet they keep bringing it in to this Country. I don't understand it. This is stuff [ingredients in question] that is supposed to keep us alive."

 

Next time you go to buy a product, challenge yourself with the truth of the nutritional content. If you do not recognize it, go out and research it. You may be shocked at the information and studies that you find.