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Open Food Facts turns 4, 83K food products in open data!

Open Food Facts launched 4 years ago on May 19th 2012. Following the paths of free and open projects like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap, it has published open data for 83 451 food products from 141 countries thanks to the work of its 3776 contributors.

Open Food Facts contributors use their smartphones to scan barcodes of food products at home or in stores and to take pictures of ingredients lists and nutrition facts table. All the data then becomes available on the Open Food Facts web site.

The data is published under a free licence (Open Database Licence - ODbL) and it is reused in more than 30 other apps, services and products, ranging to games to educate about nutrition like How much sugar?, to mobile apps for persons with special diets (without allergens, palm oil, high sodium / fat / sugar content etc.), public health scientific studies, and even connected devices (a kitchen scale).

If you think more transparency, information and knowledge for consumers is a good thing for the world, join us to open food products on Open Food Facts and now cosmetics on Open Beauty Facts! Discover the project, install our mobile app, and come discuss with us on our Slack.

Open Food Facts turns 4 years old!

Original launch announcement in French on May 19th 2012.

4 years anniversary announcement on Hackernews.

By stephane • English • Thursday 19/05/2016 • 0 comments • Version imprimable

50k food products in open data and a worldwide scan party!

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Ingredients, additives, nutrition facts and much more data is now openly available for 50 000 food products on the free and open database Open Food Facts.

50 000 food products in #opendata

In just 3 years, the 2000 contributors to the Open Food Facts project have opened the data for 50 000 food products from 134 countries by scanning their barcodes and taking pictures of their ingredients lists and nutrition facts tables using the Open Food Facts Android, iPhone or Windows Phone app.

The database is published under the Open Database Licence and it can be downloaded and reused by anyone and for all uses. 15 apps, web sites and even connected objects (Terraillon's latest connected food scale) already use the data to create new services.

All this is possible thanks to all the individual Open Food Facts contributors worldwide. You can see the result of their work on Open Food Facts, and now you can meet those passionate and tireless individuals on Scan Party, a new site dedicated to showing pictures of Open Food Facts contributors in action, organizing scan parties and linking to news from the local Open Food Facts communities around the world.

Discover more about the project and join us!

By stephane • English • Thursday 02/07/2015 • 0 comments • Version imprimable

Open Food Facts wins an Open Knowledge Award in Madrid, and it means a lot to us!

Open Food Facts is one of the winners of the OKFN Awards for Open knowledge, Open data and Transparency organized by OKFN Spain with the support of Open Knowledge. The winners were announced in Madrid on Open Data Day, February 21st 2015.

On behalf of all Open Food Facts contributors, we would like to thank the jury and the organizers for this award that recognizes the hard work of all our contributors around the world to make food information more transparent. It means a lot to us that our first international award comes from Open Knowledge Spain:

Open Food Facts is about building together a worldwide open database of food products. We are a non-profit organization, from the civil society, and we share all the values that Open Knowledge promotes. In many ways, OKFN's very strong network of communities around the world is a model for us.

On top of that, Spain is the first country outside France (where Open Food Facts started) that adopted Open Food Facts. Our first Spanish contributors translated the Open Food Facts Spain website and mobile apps and since then they added data for more than 2600 food products, which makes Spain the second country on Open Food Facts in terms of number of products.

Open data, transparency and collaboration does not stop at borders!

While the OKFN Awards are organized by OKFN Spain, the organizers made a lot of efforts to make it a truly international award, by involving the worldwide OKFN community, having judges from many different countries, having all the information in both Spanish and English, and encouraging candidates from all over the world to participate. Thank you very much for that!

Likewise, we are making a lot of efforts as well to make Open Food Facts a truly global project. Our 1500 contributors have already opened data for 35 000 food products from 112 countries and territories using their mobile phones to take pictures of products, ingredients and nutrition facts tables. But for many countries, we are still far of having enough products to allow interesting applications and re-uses. So on Open Data Day 2015, we launched Open Food Hunt, an operation to open the data of food products from as many different countries as possible, and more importantly to create and develop strong local communities of contributors.

Open Food Hunt

The Open Food Hunt page is available in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish and new translations are of course very welcome! :-)

Would you like to help us to build a local Open Food Facts community in your country or be part of it? Get in touch!

By stephane • English • Tuesday 03/03/2015 • 0 comments • Version imprimable

Open your beer and meet Open Food Facts at Fosdem'15 in Brussels

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Some Open Food Facts members will be attending FOSDEM 2015 in Brussels this week-end. We are very much looking forward to the great talks like "UI design for open data" from Hollie Lubbock (on Sunday at 13:15 in the "AW1.126" room). While we won't have a booth or do a presentation, we certainly hope to meet fellow hackers interested in food... and in beer!

Belgium is the land of fine chocolates and fine beers, so we thought we could take this opportunity to open as many beers as possible. Not just the beers themselves (although we'll definitely have to drink them once they are opened), but the data on the beers labels: what ingredients it contains, how strong it is, where it was made etc.

In fact we are planning a big Open your beer! event for Open Data Day on February 21st, and FOSDEM in Brussels is a great opportunity to "beerstorm" what we could be doing with beer data. A map of the beers of the world for instance.

As an example, here is a graph that shows how much alcolhol there is in Belgian beers. You've been warned! We will certainly also have an alcohol-free version, "Open your root beer" maybe?

Let's meet!

Besides opening, drinking and talking beer, we would be very happy to present you Open Food Facts, give you one more cool sticker for your laptop, tell you how you can become involved, exchange ideas on what we could do and tips on which open technologies we could use etc.

We are currently using Perl and MongoDB for our backend, Tesseract for OCR of the ingredients, Wikidata to link some of our data, OpenStreetMap to map where products are made, and Cordova for our iOS, Android, Windows Phone and soon FirefoxOS apps.

If you are at FOSDEM and want to meet, just tweet us @OpenFoodFacts, e-mail flo @ or look for someone with a barcoded Open Food Facts tshirt! :-)

OFF logo

07/02/2015 - Update from our contributor Flo who spent a lot of time at the FOSDEM bar to present Open Food Facts and scan beers!

By stephane • English • Friday 30/01/2015 • 0 comments • Version imprimable

Our Food Open Data Challenge: Bringing Open Food Facts to the UK!

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We were delighted when we saw that Food was one of the themes of the Open Data Challenges series run by NESTA UK and the Open Data Institute. This was a really open event dedicated to Food and Open Data, which we believe is a very tasty - and very useful - combination.

Food open data challenge question

From the very moment that we became aware of the challenge, it was obvious that we had to take part in it! The Food Open Data Challenge was a perfect opportunity to make Open Food Facts really take off in the UK, and more importantly, it brought together many different people with very different ideas of how open data could make our food healthier, safer and more sustainable.

An open database of food products of many uses and re-uses

While it was important for challenge participants to use open data sources from the UK Government (from the Food Standards Agency, DEFRA etc.), we thought that our crowdsourced database of food products in open data could be a very good other source of data for many of the challenge participants.

In our post presenting the Food Open Data Challenge, we also presented our own challenge : bringing Open Food Facts to the UK and making UK startups and nonprofits related to food and nutrition aware of our database so that they could start using it.

Open Food Facts was selected for the first phase of the challenge, and we got a chance to pitch our project in front of many food startups and we were absolutely thrilled to see that one third of the other 14 selected projects mentioned Open Food Facts in their own pitches! :-)

In the last three months, we made a huge progress in the UK, here.

From 200 to 1,200 UK food products in 3 months!

A big enough database of UK food products was necessary to show the usefulness of having open data for food products. While we had 20,000 products in our database, in mid-august we had only 200 UK products. Clearly we had to improve that very quickly so that our data could be used in applications and services designed by the other challenge participants.

So we reached out to everyone we knew who lives in the UK, some of our French contributors added products from the M&S stores in Paris, and we took thousands of pictures of food products in UK stores so that we could open their data. The result is that 3 months later when the Food Open Data Creation Weekend started, we had 1,200 products, a 500% increase in just 3 months! Clearly we can't claim victory, but 1,200 products is already enough to create very interesting re-uses of the data and prototypes. Thanks a lot to all our contributors and friends who helped us achieve this! :-)

Integration of open data from the Food Standards Agency

Many food products have a code on their label that identifies the company that made the product. Those codes are European Approval Numbers, you can find them in an oval printed on the package, and for products made in the UK, EU approval numbers look like "UK 1234 EC".

Each European country publishes a list of those codes, unfortunately each country has a different format for those lists. In the UK, the FSA publishes lists of approved food premises. We have integrated those lists in Open Food Facts so that we can automatically show the manufacturer of each product.

Here is the list of all the UK approved food premises for which we have products in the Open Food Facts database.

For some manufacturers like dairies, we were also able to retrieve the FSA Hygiene Ratings from the FSA ratings API, and we now also show them.

FSA Hygiene Rating   

Made Near Me: a crowdsourced map of food products made and sold in the UK

Thanks to the EU approval numbers and the open data from the FSA, we can determine where products are made (or at least packaged). Putting food products on a map was the next obvious step, so in late October 2014, we launched Made Near Me UK!

Made Near Me UK

Made Near Me is a good example of what can be done when you mix different types of open data: crowdsourced food products data from Open Food Facts, public open data from the FSA, and OpenStreetMap!

How much sugar: a fun and educative game made with open data!

Food products data can be used in many different and interesting ways. For instance if you mix the sugar values from Open Food Facts with the gaming engine from Angry Birds, you get How Much Sugar!

How Much Sugar?

How Much Sugar presents how much sugar is in your food in a fun and educative manner.
And if you don't see your favorite product in the game yet, just add it to Open Food Facts: when new products are added, they appear in the game.

Open Data Awards 2014

Open Food Facts was one of the 3 finalists of the Innovation category for the first Open Data Awards and we were invited to the awards ceremony presented by Sirs Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt during the ODI Summit gala dinner on 4th November 2014.

Nicolas Baldeck (at the very left) from the Open Meteo project was also one of the finalists, and the winners included Wikidata and Irina Bolychevski for her work on CKAN: a clear sign that open data is not only the realm of governments and companies, but that individuals, community projects and non-profits also have very important roles to play!

The Food Open Data Challenge projects

Food Open Data Challenge creation week-end The Food Open Data Challenge generated a lot of interest: no less than 26 high quality projects were submited. (board and photo by @odchallenges)

15 projects participated to The Food Creation Weekend on Nov 14th and Nov 15th. The Open Food Facts team was represented by two of our  very active local contributors: Benoît from London and Vince from Liverpool, joined by Open Food Facts founder Stéphane from Paris.

Each team presented their project in front of the challenge judges and the other teams.

We were very happy that many teams mentioned Open Food Facts as one of their planned open data source in their pitches. It definitely shows that food products data is very useful and needs to be open!

Food creation week-end

(Photo of the food creation week-end by @KaterynaOn)

The winners

The winners of the Food Open Data Challenge are:
Congratulations to the winners and all other participants! Great projects and great pitches!

Our own Food Open Data Challenge: Bringing Open Food Facts to the UK!

While we were not selected as one of the 3 finalists of the NESTA and ODI Food Open Data Challenge, we certainly succeded in our own version of it: bringing Open Food Facts to the UK! :-)

Yes we scan!

We now have a big enough database of food products to at least effectively demonstrate the uses and benefits of having open data for food products, and to start creating interesting re-uses such as Made Near Me and How Much Sugar.

But it's just the beginning!

What's next?

We now have new challenges, and we will need your help to meet them!

Continue to grow the database of food products

1200 product is a good stard, but it is definitely not enough. For France we now have 20,000 products, how much time will it take to reach 20,000 products in the UK? Well it depends on you!

Develop a local community

We need to develop a strong community of contributors - and of reusers - in the UK. To install the Open Food Facts Android / iPhone / Windows Phone / FirefoxOS app, to scan products and to add them to the database of course, but also to re-use the data in interesting ways.

To create this community, we need people who can present Open Food Facts in front of as many different audiences as possible, from the most obvious ones to the most unlikely. In France we have accepted all invitations to present our project, and each time we have quickly connected to the people who attended our presentations. Food is a universal topic of interest that everyone relates to. Explaining how we can better understand labels and easily compare products always generates a lot of interest and enthusiasm.

So could you present Open Food Facts in the UK?

Here are some ideas of possible venues and audiences, but you will surely have other ones:
  •     Open Data meetups and events
  •     Free software / Open source meetups and events
  •     Food and nutrition events
  •     Schools

Would you like to contribute and/or to present Open Food Facts? Get in touch!

Work with producers

We use crowdsourcing a lot to grow the database, but food producers and manufacturers can also send us their data. Some of them already started doing so, and we will need to contact more of them so that we can get more data directly from its source.

If you are a producer and would like consumers to know more about your products, we can help to open your data. Get in touch!

Work with re-users

Food products data can be very useful for food startups, non-profits, government agencies, scientists, and individuals. We will need to engage with more of them to discuss what they could do with the data and how we could help them do it.

Are you one potential re-user? Get in touch!

Let's be open!

Let's be open: we need help to grow Open Food Facts in the UK. If you would like to take part in Open Food Facts, please get in touch!

Thank you!

Thanks a lot for all the organizers of the Food Open Data Challenge from NESTA and the ODI, in particular Amy, Briony, Ed and Remi, to the challenge mentors and judges, to our current (and future) contributors and supporters, to all the challenge participants! It was a pleasure to meet you, talk to you and work with you, and we hope we will do more of that in the future!

By stephane • English • Thursday 04/12/2014 • 0 comments • Version imprimable

Discover what food products are made near you with Made Near Me!

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Today we are launching Made Near Me, an interactive map that shows where food products sold in the United Kingdom are made.

Have you ever noticed those cryptic codes in an ellipse printed on the label of food products, like this one on a Greek Style Organic and Fat Free Yogurt?

This "UK VD011 EC" code is an approval number issued by the FSA (Food Standards Agency). We can look into the data published by the FSA to see that this Yogurt was made by the Rachel's Dairy Ltd company in Ceredigion. And we can see that they were last inspected by the FSA on March 12th 2014 and that their food hygiene rating is 5 out of 5.


A fun thing to do on Open Food Facts is to look what other products are made by the same factory. Here are the products we already know for UK VD011 EC.

Sometimes factories make products for different brands. For instance we can see that the Yeo Valley Farms factory near Bristol produces yogurts for the Yeo Valley brand, but also for ASDA and Waitrose.

To do this we mixed our own open data that we are crowdsourcing on Open Food Facts with open data published by the Food Standards Agency. Since we get interesting results by mixing open data sources, let's put one more into the mix! With the approval numbers we can get the name of the factory, but we can also see where it is located. So why don't we map all those food products and put them on a geographic map powered by OpenStreetMap, the crowdsourced map in open data?

And that's what we get: Made Near Me, an interactive map of food products sold in the UK!

Made Near Me, the interactive map of food products

So what's made near you?

Of course we are just getting started. So far we have 700 products sold in the UK in Open Food Facts. But the good news is that you can help us! With your iPhone or Android or Windows Phone smartphone, it is very easy to add food products to Open Food Facts. All you have to do is to scan their barcode and take a few pictures of the product, the ingredients list and the nutrition facts table.

Made Near Me is made by you!

This map is made by people like you and us, volunteers with a desire to do something interesting and useful. Not only the food products have been added by people like you, but the map itself has been created by thousands of individual contributors! This map is not Google Map. It's better. It's OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMap is actually a great model for us, and with other projets like Wikipedia, a great example of what people can do.

We hope you will join us and help create a free, open and global database of food products from around the world. In any case, please share and enjoy Made Near Me!

Special thanks

Made Near Me would not be possible without the work and help of:
  • our 1193 (and counting!) Open Food Facts contributors
  • the FSA that opened its approval and ratings data
  • the OpenStreetMap contributors and the authors of Leaflet
  • the UK Made Near Me team who added tons of UK products to Open Food Facts (their own and their neighbours' too!) and are now experts in OvalSpotting!
Thank you!

By stephane • English • Thursday 23/10/2014 • 0 comments • Version imprimable

The Food Open Data Challenge: How can we use open data to change how we eat?

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Food Open Data ChallengeNESTA (a UK based innovation charity) and the Open Data Institute are running open data challenges on different themes like energy and housing. One of the challenges is the Food Open Data Challenge, and the question the organizers ask is:

"How can we use open data to help people eat more healthily, eat more sustainably and/or have a more secure food chain? The aim is to encourage teams use available open data to develop products and services to support people to make better choices with their food."

NESTA and the ODI have identified a list of 48 data sets related to food that participants can use in their products and services ideas.

One of the data sets is Open Food Facts. And indeed helping people to make better food choices is one of the main reason why we started to build a collaborative database on food products data (like ingredients, nutrition facts, labels, packaging codes etc.).

Yes we scan!

Knowing before choosing

Nutrition traffic lightsThe data on food products that we gather on Open Food Facts can be used to decrypt food labels, for instance decoding the "E-numbers" for additives like E150d. E150d is the sulfite ammonia caramel used to color almost all colas. California has added it to its list of chemicals "known to the state to cause cancer" so you won't find it anymore in the US. But it's still used in most colas in Europe. But that's just one of hundreds of food additives, how many E-numbers can you remember?

Another thing we can do with the data is to present it in ways that make it easier to understand. In addition to the nutrition facts table, we also show the "nutrition trafic lights" : green, yellow and red color dots that show the amount of sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt. It is a system that is widely in used in the UK but that the food industry successfully lobbied against in the rest of Europe.

But even if food manufacturers won't print the nutrition traffic lights on the label, we can still show it on top of it in "augmented reality" with the Open Food Facts Android mobile app: it visually recognizes packages (no barcode scanning or internet connectivity needed) and adds information on top.

Comparing products

Once the data for food products is in a database, it is very easy to compare products. For instance we can easily show how a product compares to other products in the same category. Consumers can therefore make healthier choices: hams with less salt, breakfast cereals with less fat, sodas and drinks with less sugar etc.

Fat and sugar in yogurts

Click to see the interactive graph. You can create graphs like this for any category of products and any nutrients in just a few clicks.

Data you can play with

The Open Food Facts database is crowdsourced and made by everyone for everyone: all the data is published in open data under the Open Database Licence (ODbL) which means it can be used freely by everyone for any use (as long as they keep it open themselves as well). And any use often means uses that we would have imagined ourselves.

You can download all of the database in one click, and we encourage everyone to play with the data.

In fact we even made a game using food products data where kids (and adults) have to guess how much sugar there is in food products, using sugar cubes to show the equivalent quantity.

How much sugar

It's currently in French only but once we have enough products from English speaking countries, we will create an English version too.

Open Food Facts is coming to the UK!

Of course to do all this, we need a database of food products. We started to build one in France in a crowdsourced way: more than 1000 individuals have used our iPhone, Android and mobile app (or their camera) to scan barcodes of food products, take pictures of the ingredients list and nutrition facts table, and enter data on the products they eat. We now have 25000 products (18000 from France), which is enough to create really cool (and more importantly: really useful) applications.

We are convinced that data on food products is of public interested and needs to be open. Not just for France, but for all of the world. So we built our platform so that it can support all countries and with the help of our contributors, we translated it in 10 languages already (some need more help!).

So the system is in place, it is working, what we also need now is more people to open their fridge and kitchen cupboards and add products to Open Food Facts.

Our own food open data challenge: make Open Food Facts UK really take off!

We are very happy that NESTA and the ODI initiated this food open data challenge and that it will show the potential of food open data (and the need for it). We think our database of food products could be very useful to challenge participants, and we would like to take this opportunity to really make Open Food Facts take off in the UK.

So we are starting a project to create a local community of Open Food Facts contributors in the UK and to reach the critical mass of UK food products in our database. And we need your help.

Creating local communities of contributors in the UK

Today only a few of our contributors are located in the UK. Some of them are very active though as they have already opened the data for 500 food products in Open Food Facts UK.

Food products in the UK

But we need more local contributors
, not only to add products, but also to come up with more ideas and applications for the data that can be useful in the UK. We also need people who can help us to share the word about Open Food Facts and who can present the project in all kinds of events (e.g. open data / tech events but also food / nutrition events). Whenever we present the project, we always generate a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the audience when we start showing examples of what we can do with the data. And almost every time, the audience comes up with ideas that we had not thought about before. It is very exhilarating.

If you would like to present Open Food Facts in your city, we can give you slides that you can present as-is or adapt to your liking. Here are some slides in English from a presentation we made:

More UK specific applications and features

In the last couple of weeks, we started to add more features to make Open Food Facts more useful in the UK. For instance we just added some UK Food Labels:

Assured Food Standards
Soil Association Organic
 British Lion Quality
Freedom Food

And we need you to tell us what else we should add to the site.

Another thing we are working on is a British version of C'est emballé près de chez vous ("Made near you" in French) which shows where food products are packaged or made.

Join us!

We certainly have a lot of work ahead of us, so if you would like to help to grow Open Food Facts in the UK, or in any other country, please do get in touch!

By mail:

On Twitter: @OpenFoodFacts and @OpenFoodFactsUK

We also have a Facebook group for contributors.

Install our app and open your fridge!

Available on the App Store            Available on Google Play             Windows Phone Store

To add products to Open Food Facts, the easiest is to use our iPhone, Android or Windows Phone apps. You can also just use your camera to take pictures of products and upload them on the Open Food Facts web site.

Thank you!

By stephane • English • Saturday 04/10/2014 • 1 comment • Version imprimable

Open Food Facts incorporates as a non-profit organization

Open Food Facts started 2 years ago and has been steadily growing ever since: we now have 900 contributors who have added data for  more than 17000 products from around the world. In order to continue the development of the project, we are in the process of creating a not-for-profit association for Open Food Facts so that the project can have a dedicated legal entity (while Open Food Facts has always been a not for profit project, so far it has been hosted by the individual company of its founder who publishes cooking sites such as Very Good Recipes).

Open Food Facts will be incorporated in France as a "association 1901". 1901 refers to the year of the French law for not for profit organizations. If you can read French (or are not afraid of Google Translate), you can read more information about the association on this blog post: Création de l'association Open Food Facts et assemblée constitutive au NUMA à Paris le 11 avril 2014
We will try to translate the documents (such as bylaws etc.) to English and other languages so that everyone can participate. Let us know if you would like to help with the translation!

Registering as a non-profit association will enable us to send a clear signal that Open Food Facts is a not for profit project, to enable more people to participate in more aspects of the project, and also to give us the possibility to seek funding to develop more activites, such as accelerating the internationalization of the project or initiating more interesting reuses of the data.

Open Food Facts association
By stephane • English • Thursday 20/03/2014 • 0 comments • Version imprimable
Plus d'articles (14 articles sur 2 pages):

Open Food Facts

Open Food Facts

The community:

> Ideas Forum
Facebook page
> Contributors group on Facebook
@OpenFoodFacts on Twitter

and of course on this blog !

The blog

This blog shares news concerning the Open Food Facts project. It's also of course a place for discussion where comments are very welcome!