Mr Betts has had an intolerance to mushrooms for nearly two decades, while his
brother can't eat cheese. "As a sufferer myself, I think it could made
a bid difference to consumers.
"Many packs of food have so much information, especially the ready
meals, that it's like trying to read a bible. This will make life so much
He pointed out that some food packaging didn't list cheese or mushrooms, but
specific varieties such as porcini or Brie, making it even harder to find to
find the problem ingredient.
Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK, a charity that supports patients
with coeliac disease, which is caused by an allergy to gluten, said she
welcomed new technologies such as this. "It's great opportunity to
improve the quality of their everyday life," she said.
As many as 45 per cent all people in Britain, equating to more than 25
million, could suffer from food intolerances, according to the charity
Allergy UK. Some scientists query these estimates, suggesting that many
people have incorrectly self-diagnosed themselves as having allergies.
As with any new technology application, there are limitations. The IsItInIt
service is currently only available in conjunction with Sainsbury's, so
users would have to restrict their shopping to one brand of supermarket,
though the company is confident that other supermarkets will sign up to the
system next year.
Also, at nearly £10, it is one of the most expensive mobile phone applications
on the market.
But for some, it may be money well spent. People with coeliac disease, an
autoimmune disease, are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye
and barley. Some coeliacs are also sensitive to oats. Ingesting these foods
can lead to damage to the gut lining, and there is no cure to the disease,
other than lifetime avoidance of gluten foods.
In theory scanning bar codes with mobile phones could allow consumers to
access a whole range of information that is not on the packet, such as which
farmer supplied the vegetables, or when a piece of meat was slaughtered.
All the major supermarkets and food manufacturers sign up to a voluntary
system to use the same bar codes, administered in Britain by a company
called GS1. The codes give each individual product an identity, which can
then be used in any database – be it food allergies, or farmer suppliers, or
Food Angel said it would update all products each evening to ensure that the
ingredients were kept continually up to date.