FoodSwitch Hong Kong

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FoodSwitch is a free smartphone application designed by The George Institute for Global Health to support healthier food choices and prevent diet-related ill health. Its goal is to empower individuals to make healthier food choices by providing access to information and innovative tools.

Imagine you’re at your local supermarket. The many brand choices of packaged food can be overwhelming, and these products often contain surprisingly high-levels of salt, sugar, saturated fat and kilojoules which may contribute to the risks of heart disease and stroke. How can you decide what to put in your basket and be sure you make the best choices and buy healthier food for you and your family? The FoodSwitch App can help you find out what is in the food you’re eating and suggest healthier alternatives for you and your family. 

FoodSwitch both empowers consumers in their efforts to make better food choices, as well as uses the power of crowd sourcing to capture new data. In turn this helps research to support healthy changes to the food environment. The app has been launched in the following countries:

A version of the app for the Fiji and Samoa is in development. 

About FoodSwitch

Making even small changes to our diets, such as consuming a little less salt and added sugar, and eating less fat (particularly saturated fat) and energy (kilojoules) could prevent many health problems in Hong Kong including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and type 2 diabetes. This could in turn help reduce the incidence of heart attacks, strokes and some cancers. 
Starting in the supermarket aisle, FoodSwitch empowers you with access to information and innovative tools to help you make informed decisions about what you eat. 

FoodSwitch is a smartphone app that allows you to scan the barcodes of packaged foods at the supermarket or at home, using the camera on your phone. FoodSwitch then presents you with immediate, easy-to-understand information about that product’s nutritional make-up. Using a colour-coded system (red, amber and green) that is specific to each nutrient, it’s easy to see whether a food is less healthy, okay or a healthier option based on its total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content. You can also see a list of similar foods that are healthier choices. 

FoodSwitch was first developed in Australia by The George Institute for Global Health. For more information about FoodSwitch Australia please visit

How FoodSwitch Works

FoodSwitch works by using the phone camera to acquire the barcode on a packaged food. It can tell what’s in the packaged food you’re eating, whether it’s high in salt, fat, sugar and kilojoules.

Use the autofocus camera on a supported smartphone or tablet to scan a packaged food’s barcode to get easy-to-understand nutritional information.
View results as either traffic-light style or Health Star Rating (HSR) labels. Both modes deliver results for energy, saturated fat, sugar, and salt so you can see at a glance how healthy the food item is.


When you scan a food product you’ll also get a list of healthier choices you can switch to.
No matter which filter you’re using, healthier choices are first identified by comparing the overall nutritional value of foods based on the Health Star Rating score algorithm, taking into account a range of different factors important to general health including saturated fat, sugars, salt, energy, protein, dietary fibre, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes (FVNL) content, and for some products, calcium.


Save, share, support
Add an item to a shopping list, share the information with others, or help us improve the app by reporting any potential issues.
Save your healthy favourites on a shopping list ready to make the switch next time you shop. Export your lists or share them with your friends via social media (eg. Facebook, Twitter and email).



Traffic Light Labelling mode

Traffic Light Labels show how foods rate using colours. In ‘Traffic Light’ Labelling mode, you’ll see colour-coded ratings to let you know if a product is low (green), medium (amber) or high (red) for key food components (total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt). Red is less healthy, Amber is OK and Green is a healthier choice.



Health Star Rating mode

In Health Star Rating (HSR) mode, you’ll get an idea of how healthy a product is by a star rating from 0.5 to 5 stars. The higher the star rating, the healthier the food is overall.



Download FoodSwitch

Make FoodSwitch your pocket companion when at the supermarket or on the move with our smartphone app.

Use it to scan the barcodes of packaged food products for the same useful, easy-to-understand information at your fingertips: 



What is FoodSwitch?

FoodSwitch gives you immediate, easy-to-understand information about packaged food products, as well as a list of similar foods that are healthier choices. You can access this through the app by scanning the product barcode using your smartphone camera. 

Each nutrient in a product in FoodSwitch has been rated and by using the colour-coded Traffic-Light Labels, it makes it easy to see how healthy a food is based on nutrients like total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. 

How do I understand results in Traffic Light Label mode?

Each product in FoodSwitch is rated for its total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content. The Traffic Light ratings tell you if a product is low (green), medium (amber), or high (red) in these food components, based on widely-accepted nutritional standards. 

How are healthier choices identified?

The app identifies healthier choices by comparing the overall nutritional value of foods. The algorithm used is based on the nutrient profiling system, which was originally developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. It takes into account the different factors important to good nutrition, including fats, sugars, salt, energy, protein, dietary fibre, fruit vegetables nuts and legumes (FVNL) content, and (for some products) calcium. 

Why is there a difference between the amount of salt displayed in FoodSwitch and the amount of sodium on the nutrition label of the packaging of a product?

FoodSwitch in Traffic Light Label mode displays values for salt, while the nutrition label on the packaging of a product usually lists sodium. The difference is that salt is made up of sodium and chloride. To get the salt content of a product, you would need to multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5. FoodSwitch has already done this calculation for you. 

Where does the nutritional information come from?

FoodSwitch is powered by a large, independent packaged food products database for Hong Kong. However, because there are always new products coming on the market and some products are only available in certain areas, not all food products available in Hong Kong are in the database yet. This is why we encourage FoodSwitch users to help us add to the database. 

How can you be sure the information on the food label is correct?

We trust manufacturers to put the correct information on label. If something unusual is noticed please use the “Report Issue” function in the app to send us information. 

What if the product I scan isn’t in the database?

If you scan a packaged food product that isn’t in the database, you’ll be invited to help us, by taking three photos – one of the front of the product, one of the nutrition label and one of the ingredient list. FoodSwitch will then automatically email these pictures to us to validate the item and add it to the database. 

Please note that with users contributing hundreds of photos to the database every day, it can take some time for the product to appear in the FoodSwitch app. We also need to complete a series of quality control checks before listing products on the app. 

Why is the product listed, but the manufacturer says it is deleted?

Every day there are new products appearing on supermarket shelves, and products being removed from the market. It is almost impossible to keep up with a rapidly changing food supply. There may be times when the app has listed an alternate product that is no longer available. We ask consumers and manufacturers to “Help us” by using the “Report Issue” function in the app that allows information about an item to be sent, informing us it has been deleted or changed. 

Why are the products listed in the Healthier Choices not available in this store?

Recording product availability across every supermarket in Hong Kong is not possible. Instead the app lists a number of healthier choices available in Hong Kong for the product scanned. If a healthier product listed is not available then your scanned item is the healthiest available at that location. 

How can I be sure the information is correct?

The database is updated regularly by The George Institute for Global Health’s research team along with the help of FoodSwitch users who can send us feedback about products through the app, on the website, or by email at You’ll receive alerts from time to time when the database is updated and/or a new version of the app becomes available. 

Why doesn’t the app include information about colours, preservatives, additives or GI?

At this stage, FoodSwitch does not include information on colours, preservatives, additives or glycaemic index (GI). We are collecting more information and future versions will aim to include more functionalities. 

Do you have any relationship with food manufacturers? Will they provide any funding to you so that their product can be recommended?

We have no commercial relationship with any food manufacturers that would affect information presented. Products are recommended solely on the basis of their healthiness. 

Why are we using Australian based algorithms and UK based standards? How do we think these are applicable for Hong Kong consumers?

The health issues caused by packaged foods are basically the same irrespective of nationality.  Excess quantities of salt, sugar, harmful fat and calories are a problem for everyone.  We are using Australian based algorithms because they have undergone a lot of development. We will update the app using local government guidlines in the future if a need arises. 

Is the ‘Healthier Choice’ good for all customers, including male/female, young/senior, and people who are suffering from diseases like kidney disease, diabetes etc.?

The healthier choices we suggest are the products that are on average the healthiest. People with particular diseases like high blood pressure or high cholesterol may need more specific advice and in the future we will be launching upgrades to the app that serve particularly patient groups. 

How often is the information reviewed and updated?

We have a team working on reviewing and updating the information on a daily basis. FoodSwitch will prompt when an update is available for download. 

How does the ‘List’ function work in the app?

To create a new list: 

  • Go to the ‘Lists’ page
  • Enter the name of a new list in the text box that says ‘Create a new list’
  • Tap on ‘Done’

To add a product to a list: 

  • Swipe to the right or left on the product details to expand the information area
  • Tap on ‘Add to list’ to go to the ‘Lists’ page
  • Add the product to an existing list by tapping on the list.

To remove a product from a list: 

  • Tap the ‘Edit’ button in the navigation bar on the ‘Lists’ screen
  • Tap on the red circle that appears to the left of the product you wish to remove
  • Tap on the red ‘Delete’ button that appears on the right.

To remove a list: 

  • Go to the ‘Lists’ page
  • Tap the ‘Edit’ button in the navigation bar on the Lists screen
  • Tap on the red circle that appears to the left of the list you wish to remove
  • Tap on the red ‘Delete’ button that appears on the right.

Why should I be concerned about choosing healthy food?

Many everyday packaged foods can be high in salt, fat (including saturated fat) and sugar. They can also be high in energy (kilojoules), thanks to growing portion sizes. All these factors can contribute to health problems like obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes and high blood cholesterol. In turn, these can lead to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and some cancers. 

Making even small changes to our diets, like consuming less salt, sugar, fat (especially saturated fat) and energy (kilojoules), can prevent many of these health problems. 

Currently, packaged product nutritional information in Hong Kong is mostly restricted to a nutrition information panel. This can be tricky to find, read and interpret, often making it difficult for consumers to be informed and make healthier food choices. 

What is front-of-pack (FoP) labelling?

In Hong Kong, compulsory food composition labelling on packaged food products needs to include a nutrition label. This is often found on the back of the product in very small print. Studies show that the nutrition label only influences the food purchases of a small minority of people who are very motivated and well informed about how to make healthier food choices. Many studies suggest that front-of-pack (FoP) labelling systems can help consumers interpret the information and make healthier food choices. 

Why use Traffic Light Labels?

Research shows many people find colour-coded labelling easier to understand than other systems. The Traffic Light Labels provide nutritional information based on 100g of a product. This helps consumers compare products quickly and easily. If a specific nutrient of a product has any nutritional data missing, it will appear in grey with a dash (-) under the nutrient that is missing. 

How do I get the FoodSwitch app?

iPhone users: Download FoodSwitch from the App Store, either online or on your device.

Android smartphone users: Download FoodSwitch from Google Play2, either online or on your Android smartphone. 

The app is free of charge. An internet connection (mobile data or Wi-Fi) is required to download it and to share information by social media and email. Standard usage charges may apply if using mobile data – check with your internet and mobile service providers for more information. 

What devices does the FoodSwitch app work on?

FoodSwitch works on: 

  • Apple iPhone devices that run on iOS version 7.1 or later that have a camera with auto-focus.
  • Android2 smartphones running Android version 4.3 and above that have a camera with auto-focus.

Please note: If you’re using a smartphone or tablet without a camera capable of auto-focus, FoodSwitch may not be compatible with your device. Without auto-focus, the pictures of the barcode will be blurry and FoodSwitch will be unable to identify the product. 

Why isn’t the app scanning the barcode?

If you’re having trouble scanning with a compatible device, here are some tips that may help you scan more easily: 

  • Shake or tap your phone to force the camera to auto-focus
  • Try again in a different light setting to avoid glare and shadows
  • Check the auto-focus capability of the camera. Try tapping on the screen at far and near objects to see if the focus changes
  • Try holding the object further away from the camera and make sure it doesn't fill the whole screen so that the auto-focus can find the barcode.

If you’re using a smartphone without a camera capable of auto-focus, FoodSwitch may not be compatible with this device. Without auto-focus, the pictures of the barcode will be blurry and FoodSwitch will be unable to identify the products

Is FoodSwitch available to anyone?

FoodSwitch is free and available to everyone in Hong Kong who uses an Apple or Android smartphone that supports the FoodSwitch app! 

Is the app free?

The app is free of charge and available to everyone. 

Can I use the app outside Hong Kong?

FoodSwitch is designed specifically for each country and is different in each country in which it is released.  This is because the barcodes on foods are specific to each country.  If you use the Hong Kong version of FoodSwitch outside of Hong Kong it will likely give incorrect results.  Currently, FoodSwitch is only available in versions for Hong Kong, China, India, Australia, the UK, South Africa and New Zealand.  

The FoodSwitch team is currently exploring opportunities to launch the app in other countries. 

Who do I contact if I have a question that hasn’t been answered here?

You can give feedback or ask a question by email at

See the full Terms and Conditions for more information.

1 iTunes iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries, App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. 

2 Android and Google Play are trademarks of Google Inc. 



© The George Institute for Global Health 2017.

FoodSwitch provides nutritional information based on a scientific algorithm developed by The George Institute for Global Health and is licensed from time to time to individual Sponsors to agreed territories.

The information has been developed and reviewed by health professionals and to the best of our knowledge is current and based on reputable sources of evidence at the time of publishing. Whilst every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the data, no warranty of this accuracy is provided. Some data required by the algorithm have been estimated to enable ranking of products. All users, especially those with special dietary requirements or food sensitivities, should assess the accuracy and relevance of this information for their personal circumstances.

The information should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice. The George Institute along with their sponsors and related entities are not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information, except that which cannot be excluded by law. For further Terms of Use please visit….

We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your, or your family’s health.


FoodSwitch 香港



FoodSwitch既可以幫助消費者自行作更好的食物選擇,還可以利用「群眾提供消息法」(crowd sourcing) 來收集新食品數據。這亦有助於對食物環境健康變化的研究。FoodSwitch已在以下國家推出:

FoodSwitch 美國正在開發中。






FoodSwitch 如何運作

FoodSwitch 利用智能手機的內置相機來掃描包裝食品上的條碼,然後提供該產品的營養資訊,究竟它是否高鹽份,高脂肪,高糖份和高熱量。
















FoodSwitch 是什麼?

FoodSwitch 提供即時及清晰易明的包裝食品的營養資訊,以及更健康的同類型食品清單。你可以利用智能手機內的相機掃描產品條碼以獲得這些資訊。

儲存在 FoodSwitch內的食品都已按照紅綠燈的模式對總脂肪、飽和脂肪、糖份及鹽份的含量進行評估,所以你可以一目了然地了解該食品的健康程度。



































FoodSwitch 內的資料多久審查及更新?




  • 前往「列表」版面 
  • 在「創建新列表」視窗中輸入新列表的名稱 
  • 點擊「完成」


  • 在產品詳細資訊上向右或向左滑動
  • 點擊「添加到清單」進入「列表」頁面
  • 點擊現有列表把產品加入到該列表


  • 於「列表」版面,點擊導航欄中的「編輯」 
  • 點擊你想要刪除的產品左方的紅色圓點
  • 點擊右方出現的紅色「刪除」按鈕


  • 前往「列表」版面
  • 點擊導航欄中的「編輯」
  • 點擊你想要刪除的列表左方出現的紅色圓點
  • 點擊右方出現的紅色「刪除」按鈕











iPhone 用戶:在網上或你的裝置上,從App Store下載FoodSwitch。

Android 智能手機用戶:在網上或你的裝置上,從Google Play下載FoodSwitch。

FoodSwitch 是免費的。需要連接互聯網(流動數據或Wi-Fi)下載和透過社交媒體和電子郵件來分享資訊。這可能會導致額外費用,請向你的互聯網和流動電話服務供應商查詢以獲取更多資訊。

FoodSwitch 可在那些裝置運作?

FoodSwitch 可在以下裝置運作:

a) 蘋果1 iPhone裝置:iOS 7.1或以上的系統並附有自動對焦功能的相機。
b) Android2裝置:Android 4.3或以上的系統並附有自動對焦功能的相機。




  • 搖動智能手機或點擊螢幕使相機對焦
  • 請在不同的光照設置下再次嘗試,以避免反光和陰影
  • 檢查相機的自動對焦功能。嘗試點擊螢幕上的遠近物體,看看焦點是否有改變
  • 嘗試把物體遠離相機,並確保它不會填滿整個螢幕,以便自動對焦可以找到條碼



FoodSwitch 是否任何人也可以下載及使用?


FoodSwitch 是否免費?



FoodSwitch 是專為每個國家設計的,在每個國家都有所不同,因為食品上的條碼對於每個國家是獨特的。如果你在香港境外使用香港版的FoodSwitch,可能會得到不正確的結果。目前,FoodSwitch僅有香港,中國,印度,澳洲,英國,南非和新西蘭的版本。

FoodSwitch 團隊目前正在探索在其他國家推出的機會。





1 iTunes iPhone, iPod Touch 及iPad為Apple Inc.在美國及其國家之註冊商標,App Store為Apple Inc.之服務商標。

2 Android 及Google Play為Google Inc.之商標。



© 喬治全球健康研究院 2017