Aims of the project
The aim of FoodSMART is to develop an IT-based menu solution that enables informed consumer choice when eating out that takes into account individual preferences, such as culture and dietary requirements, as well as product specification.
This will be achieved through an evaluation of consumer intelligence, including information about what consumers require and trust, an assessment of industry intelligence and the subsequent development of data analytics and Quick Recognition (QR) coding for personalised food recommendation; which will help people to choose and eat healthy and appropriate dishes.
Healthy eating and improving public health
Any initiative encouraging individuals to eat more ‘attentively’ could help to reduce calorie intake while also allowing those with intolerances and specific dietary requirements the freedom to eat away from home. E-menus could be the answer to both issues, and also aligns with new initiatives within public health including the use of mobile phone technology and access to information.
The ESRC funded project Destination Feelgood identified an interest in food from the network of local SMEs and therefore provides a platform to disseminate a novel solution to current health challenges. With a growing burden of lifestyle related diseases, the call for new, innovative and cost effective approaches to empower and support individuals to sustain healthy behaviours and abandon risky behaviours is constant and global.
This project constitutes a ground breaking effort to provide diners with an evidenced based resource while encouraging foodservice companies to support the public health agenda. Nutritional labelling is generally accepted as a way of providing information to consumers to support health conscious food choices. Many forms of front of pack (FOP) nutrition labelling have emerged in retail across Europe, but as yet there is no requirement for labelling out-of-home provision even though more and more of us are eating out.
The project acknowledges that including nutritional information on a menu could be expensive, time-consuming and logistically difficult, as costs and complexities could arise from operational issues such as seasonal changes to menus. From a communication perspective complexity flows from the difficulty of representing information without leading to menu visual clutter or information overload. An interactive menu labelling strategy is therefore in line with both health policy and business goals.
The main impact of this project will be the co-creation and fusing of academic and practitioner expertise to create an IT based menu solution which will help to improve public health. Bringing together academic and business expertise creates an excellent opportunity for dialogue and knowledge exchange.