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Hemi Weingarten Introduces his Fooducate App

Interview with the creator of iPhone's Fooducate app.

One day Hemi Weingarten's wife came home from the supermarket with the family's groceries. One of the items she'd bought was glow-in-the-dark yogurt. Hemi told us he was shocked that such a product would exist, so he investigated the nutrition label, where he was left confused, like so many consumers. Namely, red #40 stood out, "I didn't know what it stood for," he said. "I Googled it, and it turns out it was an artificial color used in lots of foods, and it's a potential carcinogen, linked to hyperactivity in kids, and it's being phased out in Europe."

That accidental investigation of a food label made Hemi question what and how their kids were eating, and he soon found that the foods marketed to us as healthy are in fact not healthy. That journey lead to the creation of Fooducate, one of the most buzzed about iPhone apps in the highly competitive fitness and nutrition space.

The Fooducate app is free, which Hemi says was a decision made to ensure anyone could access this important information and "get fooducated," noting that even a 99-cent fee is a barrier for some. He says there may be a paid premium version at a later date, and at some point they may invite advertisers, by way of featured products, to help monetize.

Using the iPhone's built-in camera, you hover over a UPC bar code until the camera locks on and scans, you don't have to click anything. It then searches its database of more than 160,000 products (and growing all the time) and then displays a letter grade A-D, indicating how healthy the food is. The grade is determined by an algorithm based on several factors about a product's ingredients and nutrition facts.

Fooducate also displays the calories/serving, the percentage of other users who have "liked" the product, and best of all a three-bullet list of the most pertinent information you need to know. For instance, it may indicate that the product has Red #40 (or another artificial food dye), MSG, trans fat, that something is not 100% whole grain, that it is heavily processed, and it even displays "food points" for dieters.

Additionally, you can peruse five alternatives to the product you scanned that grade better, and you can do a side-by-side comparison by scanning a second, similar product.

At DietsInReview, we've looked at a lot of nutrition apps, and Fooducate is hands down one of the best on the market. Not only is it accessible because it's free (an Android version is currently in the works, Weingarten told us), but the information is displayed in a simple, consumable way that any user can effortlessly understand and apply to their shopping and eating. The app is very well designed, and should be the must-have tool for grocery shopping moms and dads everywhere.

Click here to download the app and get fooducated!

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