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Seeing past the labels

Media release: 
13/02/2014

Launching today, FoodSwitch is the first ever smartphone app that enables UK consumers to make healthier and smarter food and drink choices. Putting consumers in control whilst out shopping, FoodSwitch will help customers make more informed decisions when purchasing their weekly shop, in turn reducing their risk of ill health through poor diets.

  • App provides ‘at a glance’ colour coded nutrition information for over 80,000 products by scanning the barcode - remaining products to be ‘crowd sourced’ by users
  • Allows customers, for the first time, to switch to healthier products based on established nutrition criteria
  • Developed by leading health experts and supported by 13 organisations as a free and impartial tool to improve the nation’s diet

FoodSwitch allows users to scan the barcode of over 80,000 packaged food and drinks sold across major UK supermarkets using their smartphone camera to receive immediate, easy to understand ‘traffic light’ colour- coded nutritional information along with suggested similar, healthier products. It is now easier than ever for consumers to reduce high levels of fat, salt and sugar in their families’ diet.

“FoodSwitch is all about putting power back into the hands of the community. At the same time as recommending healthier alternatives to shoppers, the photographs of missing products sent in by users give us a complete picture of what’s in the food supply. This is information that used to be the preserve of industry - we can now use it to hold big businesses directly accountable for what they are putting on the shelves.”


Bruce Neal, The George Institute for Global Health and inventor of FoodSwitch

When the barcode of a food or drink product is scanned by a smartphone, FoodSwitch instantly searches the database and identifies healthier products by comparing the overall nutritional value of the product to existing Government criteria. The overall nutritional rating takes into account a range of different factors important to general health including fats, sugars, salt, protein and fibre.

Many manufacturers have been hiding behind their labels for years, and with the new voluntary front of pack nutrition labelling scheme being rolled out this year, FoodSwitch gives customers the perfect opportunity to get to grips with what the labels mean, and to better understand what is in their food! The app colour codes each product by the content of four important nutrients - total fat, saturated fat (saturates), sugars and salt:

FoodSwitch was developed by leading UK nutrition research experts; Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, The British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, and the Nuffield Department of Population Health and Nuffield Department of Primary Care, University of Oxford, and led by The George Institute for Global Health (TGI). FoodSwitch is further supported by nine UK organisations.

For products that are not listed in the database, shoppers are invited to ‘crowd source’ the information by using the app to take photos of missing products, which will then be validated and added to the database for future use. There is also a feedback function available and your data is protected with FoodSwitch - when you access and share information on FoodSwitch, the app will not collect any identifiable data about you.

To download the app search iTunes and Google Play for ‘FoodSwitch’ or follow the links below:

FoodSwitch is available as a free, UK-only download from iTunes and Google Play. FoodSwitch is compatible with Apple mobile devices that have a camera with auto-focus running iOS 5.0 or later, and Android phones running versions 2.3.x, or 4.0.x. Apple, iPhone and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries.

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PDF icon foodswitch-faq-uk.pdf135.61 KB