Fooducate automatically grades foods and beverage on a scale from A to D. There are 10 distinct grades: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, and D.
Fooducate’s algorithm is based on information that is publicly available on a product’s package: the nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list. We do not receive any additional information from manufacturers.
The algorithm rewards minimally processed, nutrient dense foods with the highest grades. This means that real foods, with intrinsic nutrients will score better than processed foods that are poor in built-in nutrients and use fortification as a means to appear healthy.
Nutrients – Fooducate’s algorithms add points for nutrients to encourage such as fiber, calcium, and iron. The algorithms detract points for nutrients to limit such as saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.
Ingredients – The ingredient list is very important as it tells the story behind the nutrients. Imagine a piece of cardboard that was sprayed with 11 vitamins and minerals, then peppered with “natural” flavors, coated with an artificial sweetener, and colored with Red #40 (a controversial artificial food dye). Under some rating systems, this product would actually score very well due to its low calorie count and multitude of nutrients.
This type of product does not fly at Fooducate. We look for real ingredients that have many more beneficial nutrients to offer than the 5 or 10 a manufacturer may add to a product.
A product’s category also influences its score. Each product that is added to our database is categorized. Categories can be breakfast cereal, yogurt, bread, snacks, etc… In each category, we look at the most relevant nutrients and ingredients and give them more weight compared to others. For example – fiber is a very important nutrient in breads and cereals, but really not to be expected in yogurt.
Some categories can span the entire range of grades from D to A. Others span a smaller range – for example fruits can rate between a B+ to an A, sweetened carbonated soft drinks from D to C- at most, and popcorn from a C to an A-.
Processing – products that go through heavy processing rate lower than products that you could probably prepare at home with household ingredients. For example – a snack bar with just dates and nuts will score higher than a bar with 30 ingredients, many of which are not found in peoples’ kitchens. We can impute the level of processing by analyzing the product ingredient list.
Fortification – Adding ascorbic acid (lab made vitamin C) to a product to reach 100% of the daily value of vitamin C, does not make the product “nutritious” by our algorithms. Conversely, a red bell pepper that naturally contains high levels of vitamin C will rate high.
If you think a product you scanned rated too high or too low, please let us know by emailing support at fooducate dot com.