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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2020-10
End: 2022-05
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Folksonomy engine for the food ecosystem

Data modelling by the community

Everybody is interested in the food they eat, by many different aspects, ranging from taste, cost, ingredients and nutrition to its impact on health, the environment and society. We also happen to have many different names for the same food, the way we prepare it and other properties - sometimes only used very locally. That means it is not always easy for everyone to effectively search open data sets like OpenFoodFacts. Open Food Facts - sometimes referred to as the "wikipedia for food products" - is the biggest open food-database in the world.

The Folksonomy engine for the food ecosystem created within this project will unleash an ocean of new data and uses regarding food. Citizens, researchers, journalists, professionals, artists, communities, and innovators will be able to define and add new properties of their choice to food products on Open Food Facts for their own use or to enrich the shared knowledge. Open Food Facts already feeds hundreds of data reuses. Thousands more will become possible thanks to the new user defined properties.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

When you go do your groceries, how do you decide what food you will buy? Most people rely on a mix of familiarity, habit and package texts to find out what products fit in their diet, what is missing in their cupboard or simply what they want to try out. But what about the millions of people with allergies or strict health-related diets? Doing your groceries becomes a more difficult when you need to be sure you are not buying anything that might trigger potentially very dangerous allergic reactions.

People turn to the internet for information about health and food, but are often confronted with either conflicting opinions or commercial apps and databases that are after their personal information. What you eat tells a lot about who you are, like a kosher or halal-diet clearly indicates your religion affiliation. Finding out what products you can and cannot buy, should not mean you have to disclose very personal information with all sorts of untrusted third parties. Unfortunately, this can happen when you log in to a website of a supermarket chain and filter their offer based on your personal diet.

Because our diet and our health is our own information, we deserve open and public information about food we can search through freely. Open Food Facts is an effort to collaboratively build such a database and currently contains open data on 1 million food products from around the world, independent from the food industry and commercial interests.

The Food Folksonomy Engine is search technology built on top of the Open Food Facts database that allows anyone to search, create and share new kinds of data on their own terms and for their own uses. This way we can share and look up information about the food we eat and create without relying on not so private platforms and middlemen.

Run by Open Food Facts

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.