The Best Apps For Decoding Food Label Ingredients

By Kirk Schroder, Food Advocate

Do you know what Rennet is?  Do you know what Castoreum is? The former is commonly used in making cheeses and is an enzyme extracted from the inner mucosa of a young calve’s fourth stomach. The latter is literally beaver secretion.  Both are found in food label ingredients.  Did you know that Sodium Nitrate is not only a popular food preservative but is also used in smoke bombs and pyrotechnics?

Even though federal laws have improved to require certain levels of transparency in food labeling,  let’s face it:  we still can’t figure out and understand food labels because of complex ingredient names and misleading information.  Below are several top smartphone apps and a website to help you understand food label ingredients:

  1. Healthy Food – Smart choices in the grocery store Healthy Food is an application created for people who want to check the composition of a product easily and intelligibly. Before you fill your shopping basket, take a photo of the product, recognize (OCR) its ingredients and check what’s in it. The scanned products will be saved in the history creating an unique product base.
  2. Clueat –Food Indications  This bar scanning app provides key information about your food including nutrition information and warnings at a glance. Check your food for GMO containment. The product database is crowdsourced so you can contribute in building it and making it the most accurate product database in the world.
  3. ShopWell – Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner Recommended by CNN, NBC, The Today Show, Cooking Light, EatingWell and USA Today, ShopWell scans any item in the grocery store and gives you all of the information about that product.
  4. Sift Food Labels  Sift Food Labels has a bar scanner with a database of over 400, 000 products. It not only translates ingredients but identifies ingredients banned in other countries or which pose a risk to your health.

And for those who don’t use smartphones but have access to the internet:

  1. Chemical Cuisine  is a website page maintained by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI ranks the safety of food additives—from acetic acid to yellow prussiate of soda—in this definitive glossary of the chemicals used to flavor and preserve our foods

So empower yourself at the grocery store and use these apps to bring transparency to your food choices.


ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia

We are all set for a great panel discussion with food industry representatives and community activists about the pros and cons of labeling for consumers the presence of Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) in food products.

Please mark you calendar and come join us at the Community Room at Ellwood Thompson’s on October 1st (7:00pm-8-30pm)