On NPR this morning there was a story about labels on our food products again. I think this time it was about genetically modified foods and them having to wear a label. If you do a web search about food labeling there is a lot of debate over what should be required to be on a food packages label.
Last time I checked, it is 2015 and most everyone carries around a smart phone. Why do we need every piece of information about our foods printed on the foods? Why can’t we just put a QR code on our food products that we can scan with our phones to learn more about them?
Have an open API that allows food manufacturers and stores to easily post all the nutritional information that they need (and want) to. Once the information is in the database it can be displayed back out in a consistent manor across all products. You wouldn’t need huge labels on packaging anymore.
This seems to cover both ends of the spectrum. Food manufacturers don’t have to put GMO on a label. People that are interested can get all the information that they want. It also provides the opportunity to put more information, that wouldn’t fit on a package. For example, the ingredient phytomenadione can be a live link so you can see exactly what it is you are about to eat, instead of having to guess.
Bonus points if the app you use to scan the food products can be customized so that it displays only the information you care about. I don’t care if something is genetically modified (nature genetically modifies things all the time, it isn’t a big deal). But i do want to know calories, sugar, and sodium.
All this debate over labels seems like it should be a non-issue. If people want to know, they can take the 3 seconds to scan an item with their phone.
For people that don’t have smart phones, there could be a look up station or two placed in the store.