Scan the food before buying it to see if it is real food. This is the basis of the new fashion mobile applications such as Yuka, MyRealFood or ElCoco and that have filled the supermarkets of customers equipped with their mobile to check the 'quality' of everything they buy.
As if that were not enough, the brands themselves are beginning to use the rankings of these applications to attract users. An example is Panrico, whose new whole wheat bread appears in Instagram advertising with the 'Good processing' rating of the MyRealFood application to show potential customers that their purchase meets the 'standard' of real food.
But what is this madness about?
The concern to know if what we eat are processed good or ultraprocessed has become a kind of religion that moves thousands of people on Instagram. His best example is in the account of the nutritionist and instagramer Carlos Ríos, with 1.2 million followers. In this profile of the social network, food based on unprocessed foods is promoted, with advice and frequent visits to the supermarket to help followers recognize what these products are.
Since the beginning of this month, all these followers have one more tool to know if what they buy is Matrix (as it calls Ríos to the ultraprocessed) or real food, and it is a mobile application that could well be the church of the realfooders, MyRealFood.
This application is a mix between user community, care platform and food scanner.
In the community section, users are responsible for publishing recipes or simply uploading what they are eating, evidently everything complies with the rules of real food.
In addition, the app has a food search engine where you can see, by categories, if what you are going to swallow is a good processed, real food or an ultra-processed. This search engine works as a complement to the scanner, the tool that allows you to know, when scanning the barcode, in which of these three categories is the food.
The truth is that they take a short time and there are still many products that are not registered. As I have been able to prove, when scanning a new one there are two options, which another user has already scanned before and the app indicates that they are working to add that food, or that you are the first and also keep it to add it in the future.
Finally, in the application there is a tracking option where you can register the meals and the weight and be able to see in an indicator how much real food you eat versus the ultra-processed ones.
What method do they use to certify whether it is a good or bad food? The number of ingredients and their processing. According to Carlos Ríos, the ultra-processed ones usually have five or more ingredients and among them are refined flours, refined vegetable oils, added sugars, additives and salt.
"MyRealFood is a good tool to help the population to better choose the processor foods they buy, since they label you foods as they are healthier or less. The problem I can see there is that there are certain people who can become obsessed with this, since a food is not healthy does not mean that it cannot be consumed, "explains Judit López, nutritionist.
This French application has more than 10 million users in their country of origin and landed in Spain before summer. In these months it has become the essential scanner for mothers and fathers concerned about the feeding of their children and by many women who care about the quality of their makeup and beauty products.
Yes, Yuka in addition to scanning food allows you to scan cosmetics, a two in one.
Behind this application are three French brothers who use a completely independent method to assess whether what is scanned is good or bad. 60% of the score depends on the nutritional quality, 30% of the presence of additives and 10% of the ecological dimension. To indicate whether a food is good or bad, classify it as Excellent, Good, Bad or Mediocre on a scale of 1 to 100.
In this case, the application does not have the social component of MyRealFood but focuses solely on the scanning of products and showing healthier alternatives, an option that also incorporates the Carlos Ríos app but with fewer options than in Yuka.
Also, the quantity of products registered in this French platform is much wider and of the apps of this type that I have tried is the most complete .
* EXTRA INFO: In the case of cosmetic products, it evaluates the ingredients based on four parameters and their effects on health (endocrine disruptor, allergen, irritant or carcinogen). The amount of registered cosmetics is very wide and the classification is quite surprising. It also offers alternatives.
It is the Spanish version of Yuka but it focuses on food scanning to see if they are ultraprocessed or not. It works for a few months and for the classification it uses two metrics, Nutriscore and NOVA.
As they say, during the month of September alone, more than one million products were scanned with the app, and their database has grown to reach 125,000 food products of different categories.
The truth is that it has a good food base, but its use is more complex than the previous ones. Normally, the classification is in one of the two metrics or both, but the reading of them is not as clear as in Yuka.
Specifically, Nutriscore is an international scientific rating system that indicates the nutritional quality of products based on their nutrients. In Nova, information is provided on the degree of processing of the products, through the numerical ranking that catalogs products from 1 (not processed at all) to 4 (ultra-processed products, not recommended for continued consumption).
The fashion of food scanning is causing a wave of applications of this type, but experts warn that you have to be careful with the classifications of the food they use in all of them and not become obsessed. " That a food is not healthy (according to RealFood) does not mean that it cannot be consumed, " as the nutritionist says.
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