Blog: FoodSwitch app review
Short read - this blog is under 600 words.
If, like me, when you are shopping you often wonder how nutritious the food you pick up is and if there are alternative options out there, then the FoodSwitch app may be helpful to you.
I came across this app whilst doing some research for my role as the Eat Well Specialist. It was developed by The George Institute, and it allows people to make choices with more information behind the decision when shopping locally. The app empowers us to make choices which may be better for our health by providing simple information on a scanned product, and suggesting healthier alternatives to 'switch' to. The app also allows people to take pictures of food products that it does not yet feature. This “crowd sourcing” helps to develop the app and also helps the Institute’s research and work towards creating healthier food environments
My experience of using the app was pretty faultless. The app was readily available from my app store and is FREE:
Link to iPhone app - FoodSwitch on the App Store (apple.com)
Link to Android app - FoodSwitch - Apps on Google Play
I tend to shop at the Coop and Waitrose, and the app worked well in both stores. There are no ad pop ups and it was very easy to use once I had got the hang of it (I’m 48yrs old with questionable IT literacy and I was whizzing through products after the first 5 mins). It was more efficient in Waitrose than for the Coop, which makes me think that there are more of the Waitrose products in the database than for the Coop. If an item isn’t recognised it gives you the option to upload it as a new item which is a quick process of adding four photos in a fairly seamless way. My inner geek really flourished as I would have quite happily remained in the supermarkets uploading products to expand their database all day!
There are two options to check once you have scanned your item:
Health Star Rating (shows how healthy a product is overall using stars from ½ star (less Healthy) to 5 stars (healthier choice) This system is currently used in Australia on food packaging.
Colour Coded Labels (shows how Energy, Fat, Saturated Fat, Sugars and Salt rate using colour coded labels)
An example of a switch that I have made since using the app is Heinz Tomato Ketchup: You can see from the below image that within the traffic light category this product is red for both salt and sugar and Kcal per 100g is 18kcal at £2.65. On the same shelf, although a slightly smaller bottle and also costing £2.65, it was great to see that it scored green for both salt and sugar. The Health Star ratings for this product with more salt and sugar is 3 stars and with no added sugar is 4.5. There was a small difference in cost, with the product containing added salt and sugar being a slightly lower price, of course we’d prefer that the no added salt and sugar version was cheaper. In this instance I was pleased to make the swap and have taken my family with me on the journey, ever so slightly begrudgingly in the early stages, but no one mentions it anymore!
Helpfully, FoodSwitch keeps all of your recently scanned items for future shopping trips. It then suggests healthier choices for your selected product. Some of these products we can’t access in the Channel Islands (eg. Asda/Sainsbury’s/Tesco) but it is not so restrictive that it becomes a problem. There is also an option to filter which type of switch you would like to make. See below image:
So for those of you who want to make some healthy food switches in 2022, this is a really user friendly and informative app. We’d love you hear about your experiences – which you can share with Tanya and the team here, email@example.com
Interestingly, the NHS have launched as new app in January 2022. We are looking forward to reviewing this too and will share our findings in a new blog coming up soon.
Tanya is our Eat Well Specialist, she works within our Eat Well team to improve the out of home eating environment. Read more on her work here - https://healthimprovement.gg/services/eat-well/eat-well-out-home