The goal of this project is to ensure that companies and big data are not deciding what people are eating without transparency. This could happen through both informing the consumers and through regulation of the industry.
The digital food environment has increased during the pandemic. Digital food environments have changed the way we buy food online. This is accelerating consumption of unhealthy products, as algorithms and big data are influencing decisions more and more. This calls for awareness for consumers & policymakers in order to understand and regulate the digital food environment.
It is estimated to be a potential risk and burden on the public health, which has previously been described by Skovgaard, Flore, and Oehmen 2021, from where this project has been built. The absence of nutrition and sustainability information on meal delivery apps, and policymaking in regards to digital food environments, were identified as key sub-challenges.
The solution has a focus on benefitting restaurants (food providers in general) by assisting in the documentation of details of menu items. The solution acquires this by using artificial intelligence technology. Through image recognition, the solution estimates ingredients, allergens, nutritional values, and an overall sustainability score of the menu items.
The proposed solution consists of two parts. An online service for food providers, and an API for implementation in existing food delivery apps, that distributes consumer-friendly information about the nutrition and sustainability of a specific meal.
The online service can identify by image recognition on a picture of a specific meal. The food provider (restaurants, take-out, etc.) uploads a picture on the interface and the service returns an estimated list of ingredients, with an estimated weight of each ingredient. The information can then be used to calculate nutritional information based on existing ingredient nutrition databases, and the estimated CO2e emissions based on database information from Concito. Furthermore, the service output a list of allergens, that might be found in the meal.
The API for the food delivery apps, is needed to transfer the nutritional and sustainable information from the food provider to the consumer, as it is necessary to have easily understandable information available, where the meals are bought. The suggested solution is an API, that enables food delivery apps to integrate all information generated on the online service, by using icons and simple numerical data on all analyzed meals.