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No time to read food labels? Check out this cellphone app

January 05, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Fooducate )

Knowing what ingredients are in the foods we buy and eat is important – even when you’re in a rush at the market. Here's a cellphone app that might help, and it's free.

Fooducate, a website dedicated to helping all of us to eat a little healthier, has launched a new iPhone app that allows you to scan or type in a bar code and receive an overall grade rating for a product. The grade is based on certain "bad" ingredients -- too much sugar and salt, too many additives, too much high-fructose corn syrup, etc. (Download from the iTunes App Store.)

I tested it on some "healthy" items I eat regularly. Hmm, my vegan beverage mix got a C+ for containing xanthan gum and maltodextrin. And my hot cranberry muesli rated only a B for having “a tiny amount of real fruit.” Some products (like my favorite butternut squash soup) aren’t rated, but the app advised me to photograph the bar code and e-mail it to Fooducate to add to its database.

Bottom line: I like the quick rating – even if some of my favorites didn't get high marks. But no need to run out and buy an iPhone; you can find out everything you need to know by reading nutritional labels. Here’s a Food and Drug Administration tutorial that will show you how.

So work on those reading skills. Really, you’ll get faster.

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