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Food Database and App can Tell You What is in your Food

Update Date: Oct 28, 2014 03:15 PM EDT

There is a free food database that can tell you exactly what is in your food. After three years of work, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has launched a website that provides information on more than 80,000 packaged products manufactured from 1,500 brands.

"In many cases what we see on offer in in aisle after aisle of the supermarket doesn't really qualify, in our view, almost as food," said Ken Cook, EWG's president and cofounder, reported by TIME. "It's a series of packaged products that convey salt, sugar and other ingredients that often have very little to do with nourishment and everything to do with exactly what Americans want to avoid."

The database, EWG's Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, includes basic and in depth information. On the basic level, people can find data on nutritional values and the ingredient list. Information on how processed the foods are is also available. In terms of in-depth data, the website informs people about the levels of certain contaminants, such as BPA (bisphenol-A), mercury, antibiotics, arsenic and pesticides that are in the products, as well as food additives, such as preservatives, artificial flavorings, food coloring, sweeteners and fat substitutes.

To make the database and its app user-friendly, foods are scored from one to 10 with one being the best score a product can receive Foods that have higher levels of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and foods that are made with minimal processing receive more positive scores that are closer to one.

Overall, 18 percent of the products examined received a score in the "green zone," which is closer to a positive score. 57 percent of the food fell in the middle of the spectrum in the "yellow-to-orange" range and 25 percent were in the "red zone." The majority of the products, at 58 percent, contained added sugar.

The website can be found here.

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