Open Food Facts

Collaborative project to create a free and open database of the world’s food products

Information

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FR France
Web http://openfoodfacts.org/
Maturity

In development

About the project Edit

Open Food Facts is a collaborative project to reference the world’s food products and related information including: labels (organic, fair trade, etc.), ingredients, allergens, additives, nutritional composition, etc.

Information is made available on a free and open database: Open DataBase Licence, ODbL for the database, Creative Commons cc-by-sa for photos.

Themes

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

The quasi-totality of the existing sites, services and applications that provide product information jealously guard their data. Only consultation by employees is authorized and all other use, reuse, reproduction of data is expressly forbidden.

We want to do the opposite. We want to make all the data open to allow and encourage their reuse by anybody for any use. And we really hope that creativity and the collective imagination will surprise us when applications just as useful as surprising are created with the data!

What is the social value of this project? Edit

The project depends on the contributions of people from around the world who can easily add the products that they consume, but contributors are not alone. On the contrary, they can exchange, share their experience and their know-how. For example, right now we’re talking about how to make light boxes to take nice product pictures on white backgrounds. Contributors can also collaborate to realize common “missions”. For example, add category products by priority to conduct a comparison. And why not get together to take pictures of products in store and support sort of the way OpenStreetMap mapping does?

We all benefit from these contributions – directly for the site’s users who can get information on products and their alternative; indirectly by encouraging industry to come up with healthier products, by publishing comparatives or noting the products, for example.

We also hope that this data can be cross-referenced with other data to compare the eating habits of one country to those of another, track correlations between certain ingredients or additives and the prevalence of certain illnesses, etc.

Diet is a major topic for the world’s future and we hope that this project will contribute to a better, healthier and more sustainable diet.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The French version of the site was launched on May 19, 2012. Versions of the site in other languages are currently being developed (check the list at http://openfoodfacts.org) and we hope to expand the project quickly in all major languages (used on product packaging).

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

Following the creation of the cooking blog portal http://recettes.de/cuisine, sometimes people commented that the majority of recipes were sweet which is not really responsible considering that we live in a world where obesity, diabetes and other food affections are growing rapidly.

I think that home cooking, even if sweet, is much healthier that commercial products, but have nonetheless given the question serious consideration. This led me to create a group of bloggers http://mangerbloguer.fr that promotes a healthier and more sustainable diet.

And I created http://informationsnutritionnelles.fr which uses data from CIQUAL (Centre d’Information sur la Qualité des Aliments, the information centre on the quality of food) to allow people to compare the nutritional information of 1,300 current foods, but I have not found any information on commercial products or solely from proprietary databases. Inspired by projects like OpenStreetMap, I then decided to work on building a free and open database of food products.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

Contributors are volunteers and in exchange, their contributions are available for anyone for any use. This is the same model as projects like Wikipedia or OpenStreetMap.

Data is open for any use including commercial. Individuals, organizations, businesses, etc. can therefore use it to create sites, services, applications, studies, etc. that they are free to monetize from the moment they respect licencing terms (mention the data’s source and share using the same conditions as photos and artwork or digital databases).


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