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  • Marie

Yuka, a smart app for a better shopping cart

We have learned pretty quickly that we are supposed to be careful with what we put in our shopping cart, and at the end of the day in our plates.

We are not talking only about calories anymore: the food we buy, cook and eat is frequently boosted with additives, unnecessary sugars, salts and/or artificial flavours.

You will also be able to find an incredibly-large amount of things to read regarding sustainable farming, agriculture and food production which might put your current consumption and diet choices into questions. And if you are lucky enough, you might be lectured by people you know (or don't) about the food you should eat (or not) for whatever cause in the world.

But if we can take good use of new technologies and app and open source information to reach a better understanding of what we purchase (and, let's dream here for a minute, to influence the food industry itself), we can surely get better in doing these choices, or at least being informed accordingly.

Yuka is the kind of app that can help you make informed decisions about what you plan to buy.

After installing it on your smartphone for free, you will be able to scan the barcodes on the products (the same as the ones used normally to identify their price) as you walk by the supermarket or back home. Should the product be recognized (i.e. if it has been recorded in details in the Open Food Facts database), its description will appear along with a grade out of 100 points and a colour-coded ranking (from red - "bad for you"- to green - "excellent").

This ranking is based not only on the product's nutritious characteristics (up to 60%, including fats, salts, sugars, energy, fibers etc...) but also on the additives (up to 30% of the grade) which could be dangerous for your health. And believe it or not, a lot of products and brands that claim they are "healthy" or "diet" do end up with pretty poor grades.

To give you an example I tested a few products I have at home - see picture on the right to see how it appears. One could expect a mediocre grade for my jar of Nutella or my very sweet cookies; however I did not expect my pressed clementines juice to be that bad: the sugar content was absurd, can you believe such a small bottle contains 12g of sugar, i.e. 4 cubes of pure sugar in a drink that is sold as healthy and fresh!

Yuka also provides a few more relevant services based on this scanning option:

- if you record your products for a month, particularly the ones you will end up eating, you can have a good overview of your diet's quality and identify whast you would need to change.

- For each product of poor quality the app will suggest you better alternatives of the same type.

- on Yuka's website you'll find a blog as well as tips and recipes to have better food habits.

At the moment Yuka is only available in France - in French and I would get error messages most of the time when scanning Swiss products. However the concept of such an app is interesting and especially relevant nowadays.

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