Interactive Labelling for Consumer Protection


Science benefit

To join the front-running of e-commerce an food nutrition developments whilst establishing strategic links communication technology, retail, regulatory and to improve the relationship between industry and consumer organisations.

It is about setting up a barcode system or "discrete" product labelling linked to an intelligent programmable family-customer (card or on-line system. A scanning device (at home or at the shop or built in a mobile telephone, I-mode) should identify whether the product poses any risk or is beneficial to members of his family. The customer can choose whether he is informed. Industry and retail could increase their external profile/brand image as responsible organisations and use it as a marketing instrument and direct link with their customers. Governments may be able to monitor trends and identify groups at risk. Health insurance companies can direct buying behaviour


Current barcode-system  + customer cards (Albert Hein,Plusmarkt, C1000) can already be used to directly target and stimulate consumer groups. Warning codes can be directly implemented (in essence, like in cigarette industry) - example given: High saturated fatty acid consumption can lead to obesitas, depression and cardiovascular disease, obesitas and cardiovascular disease on a high fat ice cream. French fries may contain carcinogenic acrylamide. The consumption of red meat without vegetables, anti-oxydants can contribute to colon cancer. A conventional mean is to put warning stickers on products (green: safe, yellow: medium risk; red: for high products) or the  “Kies bewust” logo.

Simple scanning devices for health do already exist (initiated by patient groups). Systems can be easily directed to stimulate consumer towards desired behaviour by differential taxation (exists for alcohol, cigarettes, etc., ) or by making use of health or green bonus-points to give award and penalty tickets: a reduction or increase in health insurance premium, environmental taxes. Two dimensional barcodes (development in 2003: source M. Nieuwesteeg, Dutch Packaging Centre, Gouda)/discrete labels, radio frequency identification tags (RFID-chiptechnology ) can contain customised quantitative information, such as:



-  No labelling is now required for perfumes which can contain over 20 allergenic ingredients

-  Food allergens  nuts, cows milk, egg, gluten, fish and soy.


Site-effects of medications and foods

- statins and grapefruit juice, bergamottin (Earl Grey tea)



-  Presence, absence GMO-ingredients

- Organic produce with  potential health claims ( animal welfare, micronutrient content and balance superior to industrial agriculture/pollution, too high K-level in regular Westland tomatoes, drop in good metals (e.g. Mg > - 30%)

- natural claims, additives


Microbiological risks

-  Salmonella and Campylobacter on chicken: Gastrointestinal diseases and autoimmune diseases

-  Listeria monocytogenes for immuno-compromised groups

- Safe shelf-life if combined with a temperature sensing device


Prevention of dietary macro- and micronutrient deficiencies and overdosing:

- overdosing (2 x ADI) Vitamin A  for pregnant  women: birth defects

- potassium (a salt substitute in hypertension products): dangerous for patients with renal failure

- Na, K, Ca and Mg  content: blood pressure

- saturated fatty acids: obesitas, atherosclerosis, depression

- too low selenium: cardiiovascular disease, cancer

- underdosing vitamin B12: depression

- omega 3 and 6-fatty acids: link with ADHD reduction

- fluor underdosing: caries, overdosing: fluorosis

- specific food components (sugar, tomato, ..) and ADHD


Targeted health-claims:

- mood control: Phytosteroles, stanoles prevent reduction of oxygen supply to brain

- vit. B12  to prevent depression

- kid nutrition: Fish oil  to boost  learning performance

- Anti-ageing (prevention of atherosclerosis) phytosteroles

- weight-management: Obesitas increases risk of Alzheimer, depression

- increased iron bioavailability: Polyphenoles in wine and tea

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