We’ve been asked by several readers and users of the Fooducate iPhone App about the source of our product information. Some also wanted to know how we ensure data accuracy.
First let’s explain what data we use and compile. In order to analyze and grade products, Fooducate keeps a record of individual products by their UPC (universal product code). That’s the 8, 12 or 13 digit number you see under the barcode of all products. The information Fooducate holds is product image, product description, nutrition label information, ingredient list, and warnings (such as allergies).
Multiply that by over 200,000 products and you get a lot of information!
We get our data from the following sources:
- Data Licensing – we license product information from companies that have a large compilation of CPG product data. (CPG – consumer packaged goods).
- Food Manufacturers – we are in direct contact with many food manufacturers. They provide us product data sheets. If you are a manufacturer and don’t see your products included in our database please contact us at FoodCo at fooducate dot com. We’ll be happy to add you to our database.
- You – that’s right, users like you. Whenever you scan a product we don’t have in our database, we ask for your help – all you need to do is snap 3 pictures for us - of the product, nutrition facts, and ingredient list.
Once we have product info, there are several challenges in maintaining data accuracy:
Data entry errors – sometimes the analog information that appears on the box is incorrectly or only partially transformed to digital data. For example information about vitamin C or vitamin A may be missing. Sometimes ingredient lists are missing. In these cases we also ask for your help. Again, simply follow the instructions and take a picture of the nutrition label or the ingredient list.
Outdated data – Products are constantly reformulated by processors. Which means ingredient lists change. For example, we’ve seen many products lose high fructose corn syrup in favor of sugar. Nutrient values change too. Many soup companies are reducing salt by 10%-30% and as a result the sodium count is lower. (Hooray, by the way)
Our data team is continually working to make sure the information is correct including both manual review and automated validation algorithms. That said, there is always a chance that some information is wrong. If you want to tell us about a problem you’ve found, or data you think may be off, click on “feedback“ on the bottom right hand side of the Fooducate app screen.
Hoping this answers the question.