Using the Open Food Facts app to accompany scientific research – yes we scan 🤳🥫 !

Using the Open Food Facts app to accompany scientific research – yes we scan 🤳🥫 !

Recently, Sarah E. Nájera Espinosa (Nutrition & Climate researcher and PhD Candidate at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) contacted with Open Food Facts to use the database for her research. 

More precisely, Sarah and her team are conducting a survey on the availability of novel plant-based food products sold in the UK. The aim of this study is to observe the availability of novel plant-based foods across different supermarkets and rate their healthiness and sustainability.

To collect the data needed, we suggested to Sarah that she organises a scan party (who said research & fun couldn’t go hand-in-hand ? 😉)

So after arranging with several local Edinburgh supermarkets, Sarah and two trained volunteers proceeded to scan food barcodes and take pictures of the relevant products on the Open Food Facts app

Research team in action !

The data collected via the app was nutrient data and certain environmental information such as type of packaging, nutrient content, ingredients, origin of product, manufacturing location. 

Moreover, the trio added new products to the database and updated pictures of some brands that have changed their packaging. In total, 231 products were added to Open Food Facts !

With this data, Sarah & her team can get the Nutri-Score and Eco-Score, automatically calculated by the app’s algorithm. 

The data collected will be used in research outputs such as publications, presentations and reports, relevant to this area of research. 

The operation was a win-win and it showcases the magic of an open data project and of citizen science, as researchers are able to make use of large amounts of data thanks to millions of citizens worldwide who have entered products to Open Food Facts ! 

In turn, as research advances, it improves the lives of people around the world. That’s what we call the virtuous circle of food transparency.

Want to be part of the food revolution 🍊 ?

It’s simple, just start by contributing via the website or mobile app with information on your groceries. 🤳🥫 🛒 ✨


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