Individuals who follow a specific diet due to food-related health problems (e.g. food allergies or intolerances) or by choice (e.g. wellbeing, ideological motivation) must constantly be aware of what is in their food, checking the ingredient label for every new item they buy. As ingredient descriptions can often be difficult to read and understand, these individuals may be afraid to try new products.
Although food producers are required by EU legislation to print ingredient lists on all food packaging, these lists are not collected by any public or private institution to provide information to consumers. The lack of such a central database and the need for allergy sufferers to have easy access to ingredient information led to the creation of WikiFood.eu, an online independent food and nutrition platform updated by a network of volunteers.
WikiFood.eu features an award-winning online database of the ingredient lists of more than 28,000 food products available in Europe. Uploaded by individual users or provided by food manufacturers, each product listing includes information on the producer, country of origin, full ingredient list with photo, and optional information including allergens. Nutritional quality is shown using an easy-to-understand traffic light system. Products on WikiFood.eu can be found by browsing through categories, by excluding specific ingredients, such as gluten or eggs, or by specific characteristics such as high fiber or low fat.
In addition to the website, the database can be accessed through an Android app and iOS app (currently in the test phase). These mobile apps enable efficient data entry of ingredient list with OCR text recognition and a natural language processing system. New entries are automatically categorized to identify allergens, synonyms or spelling mistakes.
WikiFood was selected by Good e-Health as one of the most important e-Health initiatives of 2008, and received the Patient Experience Award at the 2015 Luxembourg Healthcare Summit. LIST was awarded the FoodTech Award for WikiFood® at the Food Summit 2017.