Better Food through Open Data Communities

There is data in the food products we buy. Nowadays, no matter how attentive we select what we eat and what food products we buy in stores, we still accept hidden information regarding the ingredients and, most important, about the additives which are part of the food products we consume. The reality shows that very few of us are taking the time to read the labels on products and even if we do so it is hard to take live decisions, on the spot, if it is a good food product for us or not. But what if there would be a way to contribute, as a common food consumer, to the change of the quality of food products?  This change can come from a data driven habit of the consumers that decide to gather and record food component details that are printed on labels.

Be a Food data contributor. There are open data communities dedicated to food data collection like “Open Food Facts” ( that encourage individuals to collect the information posted on food products’ labels. Data gathering is easy. Contributors can just scan the code bar using an app, take a picture with a mobile device of the products or simply introducing the information through a form. It is enough to capture the information from just few food products which is a minimal effortless contribution to the open data community. Such a contribution becomes then a structured data record in the Open Food Facts data base. This is priceless if we think that with a minimal individual data gathering effort, the community of consumers is building by itself structured information about what we all eat.   

Be a food data insighter. There is more than just having a good and complete database. Open Food Facts opened to the data science community by making its food facts database available to “Kaggle” data scientists’ community ( In this community analytical scripts are open and re-usable, data is publicly available, strong data science software like R or Python are well known inside data science community, so best methodologies for analysis are debated in this forum, insights are shared to the community.

What’s the benefit of all this?   Consumers become aware about what they eat, channel their decisions on the products they feel like meeting their eating habits. Producers and retailers become more attentive to the quality of the food products and least but not last, a real world problem is improved through data science contribution. When food data is combined with consumers’ behavior data the result is a powerful pattern detector.

So, as an individual food data contributor or as a data scientist you can bring value to the food products quality. All this because of the existence of open data communities.

The ultimate mission

Support companies in using insights from data in day-to-day decision making.