May, 2010 – With food allergies reaching epidemic proportions around the globe, a new iPhone application launched today aims at offering long-overdue relief and peace of mind to food allergy sufferers.
MyFoodFacts™ available today through the Apple App Store, is a first-of-its-kind Smartphone application designed to help food allergy sufferers identify and shop for allergy-free products. Using the iPhone camera, shoppers simply scan the UPC barcode to gain instant access to food label information. With a strict focus only on food allergies, MyFoodFacts™ provides food allergen sufferers with immediate food allergy alerts when allergy risks such as milk, wheat, fish, soy, shellfish, egg, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame seeds are found. With MyFoodFacts™ shoppers can:
- Scan barcodes in the supermarket aisle or in their cupboard
- Be immediately alerted to food allergies
- Easily read label ingredients on the iPhone
- Maintain a history of scanned items
- Personalize MyFoodFacts™ for specific food allergen alerts
- Be alerted to common food allergen derivatives
- Search for specialty food allergens
Nearly 90 percent of food allergies present in society today are attributed to: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, sulphites, sesame seeds, and shellfish. Today in the United States alone, more than 12 million people or 4 percent of the adult population and more than 3 million children suffer from some form of food allergy. With incidence of food allergy rising annually in the double digits, the rising numbers of allergy sufferers is triggering alarm bells among pediatricians, allergists and parents around the world.
According to a November 2009 report by the Office Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, government researchers found that self-reported food allergies increased 18 percent between 1997 and 2007. Healthcare visits for food allergies in children nearly tripled between two time periods studied: 1992 through 1997 and 2003 through 2006. In the later period, U.S. children had an average of 317,000 visits to healthcare settings per year for food allergies.
The US Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), a non-profit agency dedicated to raising public awareness, states that, "There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are important measures to prevent serious health consequences." FAAN also provides advocacy and education, and advances research on behalf of all those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis. The launch of MyFoodFacts™ coincides with FAAN's National Food Allergy Awareness Week (FAAW), which takes place May 9-15, 2010 in the United States.
"Six to eight percent of children in Great Britain today suffer from potentially anaphylactic reactions to food and a similar number are also avoiding foods due to delayed allergies. Shopping for the food allergic child can be a nightmare and anything that makes it quicker and easier without compromising safety has real value. MyFoodFacts™ will make a really positive impact on the lives of my patients and their families," said Dr. Adam T. Fox, Paediatric Allergy Consultant at St. Thomas' Hospital, in London, UK.
The MyFoodFacts™ food product information center includes a comprehensive database of over 100,000 food products, representing approximately 6,000 manufacturers and roughly 13,000 brands sold across the United States. This information is predominantly provided and supported by manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. The food product coverage provided by MyFoodFacts™ is very strong for national brands, and strong for private label brands throughout the US. With our food product information center continually growing and updated with new products and label information on a daily basis, shoppers will have instant access to this information available at their fingertips.
MyFoodFacts™ includes the highest food allergen risk groups in North America and provides critical allergy alerts in the prevention of either an anaphylactic or food allergy reaction. MyFoodFacts™ improves the quality of life for those suffering from food allergies, sensitivities (including gluten) and intolerances.
"The grocery store has gone from being a minefield to being an interesting adventure. Shopping for my highly allergic grandchildren was a dangerous and frustrating activity — reading labels, deciphering the contents of ingredients, checking the environment in which the food is produced — it's all time consuming and a mistake can be life threatening. Now, MyFoodfacts™ alerts us to the dangerous foods and gives us instant information to protect our children. For the first time, we can feel safer with the food choices we are making," said Irene O'Toole, grandmother to children with food allergies.
"When I discovered my own food sensitivity of being lactose intolerant, I found myself in the predicament of having to intently read labels to ensure my own well-being. From this I drew inspiration to create an easy to use iPhone application for consumers suffering from food allergies. It is important to me that MyFoodFacts™ is 'not just another app.' We're putting in people's hands a tool that allows allergy sufferers to improve their quality of life and have a more confidence-filled shopping experience," said Mike Kwiecien, MyFoodFacts ™ founder, and CEO Vistadec.
"The mainstay of treatment for food allergies is the strict avoidance of the offending foods. This can be extremely challenging and time consuming for patients. Typically a nut allergic patient spends 40 percent more time shopping, because they have to read every food label. Registered dieticians spend a significant amount of time with allergic patients, reinforcing the importance of identifying offending foods.
MyFoodFacts™ will not only alert the patient to foods they are allergic to, but also compliment dietetic input," said Dr. Rosan Meyer, Paediatric Dietician and world recognized expert on infant and child nutrition. "MyFoodFacts™ is also very easy to use and well tuned to assist people in their shopping experience."
"Early detection, recognition, and avoidance of food product allergens are the hallmarks of MyFoodFacts™," said Mike Kwiecien.
Future plans for MyFoodFacts™ include ongoing expansion of food product coverage in the United States, including Canada, Europe and other countries, as well as releasing it onto other Smartphones. New features will allow shoppers to be alerted to critical food product recalls and food allergy alerts from organizations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).