The app from Fooducate is interesting and fun, but I don’t think I would really use it to guide my food choices. For example, I scanned a loaf of Arnold 100% Whole Wheat bread which gets a B+ rating; One of the “Alternatives” in the category that received an A- rating was Country Kitchen 100% Whole Wheat bread. Why did one receive a higher rating than the other? The Arnold contains Citric Acid, Maltodextrin, and Soy Lecithin (none of which are harmful) and they gave it a 2.5 “FoodPoints value”. The Country Kitchen also contains Soy Lecithin, plus Calcium Proponate and gets a 2.5 “FoodPoints value” but also contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (which I personally avoid).
Since I do not know how the points are derived or how the grading system works, I can only speculate. It seems that they are giving a better grade to the lower Calorie choice (the Country Kitchen bread has 90 Calories a slice while the Arnold has 110 Calories listed in the app – although the package in front of me has 100). Personally I would prefer an extra 20 or so Calories, without the High Fructose Corn Syrup, but that’s a personal choice.
The other strange thing I noticed when playing around with the app, was that some of the “alternatives” given are completely different from what you scanned. For example when I scanned a Larabar, it got a C+, and one of the “alternatives” was an orange (which rightfully received an A). While I agree that a piece of fruit is a better snack than something manufactured, when someone wants a bar, they don’t want an orange! Another given alternative to the Larabar was a “Slim-fast! Chocolate Cookie Dough Meal Bar” which scored a B-. The app states that there are “No added sweetners” in the Slim-Fast! bar, yet when glancing at the long ingredient list, the first three are sweeteners (!?).
So for now I’ll let the kids enjoy scanning bar-codes and use it as a jumping off point for discussing the comparative values of different products with them. It’s a great idea and there is some good information, but I’m not sure it’s quite ready to be used as a source for making food choices!