I have written extensively about the underlying product information challenges facing the companies attempting to inform consumers about eating more healthy through simplified labeling.
Some of the providers (Guiding Stars, ONQI/NuVal and others) have reverted to collecting their own product label information directly from the store shelves due to the inadequacy of commercially available data. This approach too, given the designs of those programs will end up failing. The newest solution on the block, points out some additional product information challenges that may lurk even if the program or commercial suppliers of product data were to successfully tackle the data collection accuracy issues.
eatingsafe.com is what I believe to be the first of the H&W 3.0 applications. The company has been in business in Australia and just now coming to the States.
The 1.0 applications were the nutritionists in a store/available via the internet. They did not have product specific data at their fingertips so could only give specific consumers, general information. Version 2.0 are the single tailed (ie: low-sodium or no trans-fats or no peanuts, Nutri-Filter ) and the general health direction, product specific (this set of products are better than that set of products, again ONQI, Guiding Stars and others).
The 3.0 applications recognize that the general health direction, product specific applications are aimed at the general population who are trying to eat healthier. They are not specific enough to help coeliacs, diabetics, anaphylaxis or sodium restricted customers. As a matter of fact, it may be viewed by some consumer health groups that the general solutions mislead people with specific needs or restrictions. eatingsafe.com is meant to work WITH the 2.0 applications and yet clearly to provide consumers a tool that helps them further classify products in order to deal with specific issues. Think of this for the family who is trying to eat healthier, but also houses a dad who needs restricted sodium intake.
They offer a nice little web-based applet, that can fit onto current web applications and enhance the single-tail or general health direction/product specific solution.
Further, they analyze the actual ingredients and nutrition in a product using a proprietary database of issue definitions that can help consumers with specific health restrictions better understand the product labels from the perspective of their restriction (ie: the product may not state wheat, but uses binding agents commonly processed with wheat, which would be bad for coeliacs.) In other words the product labels used to power these general purpose programs yield a great deal of knowledge but may not tell the story in a complete enough fashion to assure the consumer that a particular product is actually safe for THEM, despite what the shelf label says.
Seems like a logical and needed extension in the Health & Wellness improvement arena. With 65% of Americans claiming they read nutritional labels much more often than they did a year ago (according to a recent Nielsen study) it makes sense for Supermarkets to try to help the consumer make the most informed and safest decision.