French smart phone app Noteo allows consumers to scan bar codes of chocolate bars and candy in store to assess their social, environmental and health credentials.
The free app , only available in French, is intended to allow consumers to make informed choices about their confectionery purchases.
“Our first objective is to shed light on the choices of consumers and to decrypt the information,” said president and founder of Noteo, Baptiste Marty.
The app gives ratings to products based on four criteria: environmental, social, budget (cost of the product) and health. The ratings are determined by a scientific committee composed of 15 members including research scientists, nutritionists and environmental experts.
The health analysis is based on recommended daily allowances (RDAs), and the ‘SAIN LIM’ methodology developed by the INRA and INSERM. A quick scan on the Noteo website shows that in chocolate, dark varieties tend to score higher on health than milk counterparts.
One of the highest scoring chocolate products for the health criteria is 70% cocoa brand Omegachoco, which is fortified with omega 3 through flax seeds.
The Noteo team also conducts a toxicological analysis of ingredients and gives a lower health score to products that contain ingredients that have been identified as possibly carcinogenic, mutagenic, or allergenic by the EU and bodies such as the International Centre for Research Against Cancer.
Environmental impact of cocoa
The app developers said in a statement that cocoa production had a profound impact on the environmental and social health of the planet. It said that 0.5% of the world’s population, 40 million people were involved in cocoa growing.
It added that 1 kg of raw cocoa required 27,200 liters of water, against 1,120 liters for coffee or 120 liters for tea.
The app gives an environmental ranking based on greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and other criteria.
Budget rankings also allow consumers to choose products that are kind to their wallets, by comparing the scanned product to others in the category.
The Noteo app was developed by Marty in late 2012 supported by government subsidies and independent partners.
New products on the market are rated within four weeks of release and the developers said they were constantly reviewing existing ratings.