I can feel it. Every time. It starts as a slight discomfort, a minor pressure. It’s as if someone is taking their thumb and lightly pressing it on the back of my head. If allowed to continue, though, the intensity of the feeling increases. A creeping feeling of tension on the neck, an uneasiness in the air, the knowledge that someone else is there.
It’s not the beginning of a young writer’s first attempt at a thriller; it’s what every food allergy parent (or anyone with food allergies themselves) experiences every time they go to the grocery store. Because every time you stop to read an ingredient list, someone comes up behind you, trying to get to the thing that you are standing in front of. You do everything you can to be as out-of-the-way as possible, but no matter where you are, you are going to block someone from something. Reading food labels gets really old really fast. So someone has set out to change that.
My Food Detective is a **free** app that is designed to help navigate the aisles of the grocery store. No more reading ingredient lists; just scan the bar code, and bish-bash-bosh, you know if it’s safe or not!
It starts out with several allergens already in place. You can set your own specific allergens, deleting those you don’t need, adding those you do. In our case, the list includes peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy, strawberries, and pineapple.
After all your allergens are set, just click “scan” and position the bar code in the scanning area. Based on your selected allergens, the app will let you know if it is safe or not.
This app has the potential to be a game changer for those of us dealing with food allergies. However, there are certain things to watch for. First of all, it’s only available for iOS right now (no problem for me, but for you Android people, you’re out of luck for now). The allergens are incredibly specific. “Peanuts,” “peanut,” and “roasted peanut” are all different. Or rather, they all have to be entered differently, because the app will look specifically for what’s in the list and doesn’t know how to look for other things. “Tree nuts” needs to have all tree nuts listed. However, and seemingly a contradiction of what I just said, we got a few “false fails.” Our little MegaMan can’t have soy protein, but he can have soy lecithin and soybean oil. Despite going through the allergens as thoroughly as I could, I couldn’t find a way to delete soy oil and lecithin while retaining soy protein and soy flour. A few things that I know are safe came out as a fail. Enjoy Life chocolate chips didn’t pass, and I can’t figure out why. The best I can figure is that the app got confused by “chocolate,” but that doesn’t seem to make sense. Now, it is very possible that I just need to explore it more, but I was disappointed to see something I know to be safe get a big ol’ fat frowning face.
BOTTOM LINE: Check out www.myfooddetectiveapp.com to find out more. If you have an iOS device, get the app. It is brand new (as in just came out in the past two weeks at the time of this writing). If more people get it and give suggestions for improvement, the developer may be able to tweak it to make it even better. Explore the app thoroughly and try it out. I’m excited to use this app more to see if it really can make grocery shopping easier.
Once you try this app out, comment below and let me know how it goes! I would love to hear what you think of it. And if you figure out how to deal with the issues I had, let me know that too!