Ten years ago, former successful Wall-Streeter Ellen Badinelli, was the camp activities director at her children’s summer camp. Her challenge was finding a food that all campers could snack on after activities. The rise in children with food allergies, intolerances, diabetes and on certain medications meant that some children were left out. Initially, Ellen found herself in the grocery store aisles combing through rows and rows of ingredient lists, only to have to cross check them manually against the children’s lists. She quickly realized the magnitude of her task.
That’s when ScanAvert, a mobile application that helps consumers with dietary restrictions to choose safe groceries, was born. Available for both iOS and Android devices, ScanAvert is much more than a mobile grocery advisor, allowing users to find and track their purchases based on their manageable disease or condition.
In the Fall of 2011, ScanAvert recieved a patent that allows for automated compatibility notification, and for recommendations to virtual or physical groups, based on a subscriber’s dietary and health preference/avoidance profile. This means that ScanAvert can be the pre-eminent portal for food manufacturers’ coupons to be pushed directly to members based on their dietary preferences, intolerances, and allergies. Because of this, ScanAvert is HIPAA compliant.
ScanAvert allows users to store personal health information and preferences on the website. Then, users can scan food, medication and beauty product barcode labels with their smartphone to have items cross-checked against their personal health specifications. ScanAvert pulls from its database of over 300,000 product entries and shows a RED or GREEN alert depending on the user’s needs. Additionally, the technology issues push notifications on vital recalls, a particularly important feature for people with anaphylaxis.
As the mother of a food allergic teen, and having food allergies and intolerances myself, this has been an excellent addition to our arsenal of tools for managing our day-to-day life. For example, when I was recently at a new spa, I scanned the masks and lotions and found that many contained ingredients that were not safe for me. I can imagine making sure our caregiver has the app, and recommend that my children’s grandmother use it when she shops the grocery aisles for us before a visit. Camp directors could input my child’s dietary preferences to help them build a safe menu for my child. I also look forward to soon being able to get push notifications with coupons for foods that are safe for me and my family.
Eventually ScanAvert, with the assistance of major sponsors, will make the app free to everyone. Until then, there is a $1.99 charge for one month, or $9.99 for six months. Ellen’s long-term goal for the product is “…that Doctors and health professionals will eventually use it to track a patient’s diet, check for other interactions with medications and see where diet might directly relate to their overall health care and management before disease sets in. Additionally, it can be used for public recalls on a massive scale.”