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September 16, 2014

Food For Thought: Startup Targets Nutritional Data

George Leopold

A U.K. data startup that has developed a semantic platform targeting nutrition and health applications said it has added more than 500,000 U.S. products to its dataset in hopes of promoting new applications for everything from nutritional information to exercise devices to restaurant menus.

London-based Klappo said earlier this month that the expansion of its dataset includes 525,000 U.S. product barcodes containing ingredient information about the nutritional value of U.S. food products. It said about 100,000 cover new food ingredients that would now be available via Klappo’s API.

The dataset expansion provides app developers with access to “semantically enhanced data” on more than 700,000 global foods and beverages along with 1.5 million recipes. The data is used primarily to create content on health and portion size information.

The startup is part of an emerging data sector focusing on health and wellness applications. Klappo estimates the market for data-driven healthy food apps could hit the “500 million mark” by 2015, although it did not specify whether the total referred to dollars, euros or apps.

Developers use Klappo’s database and API to create apps and other software that deliver detailed information about the nutritional value of foods. The resulting customized profiles take into account considerations like dietary restrictions and medications along with ingredients and preparation methods.

Klappo’s claim to fame is a semantic platform that provides aggregated, “normalized” data. Previously, the company said data underlying online content and applications were inconsistent, requiring much processing and cross-referencing.

In a testimonial, Dr. Rupert Dunbar-Rees, founder and CEO of Outcomes Based Healthcare noted: “As medicine turns to data science and machine learning to answer the really big questions and bring about large scale change to healthcare, good data has never been more critical. The ability to measure and predict the effects of consumption on an individual is an important step to understanding the impact of food on people’s health outcomes.”

Klappo CEO Max Del Vita added that the company is also targeting the “exploding” wearable technology market driven by companies like Apple, FitBit and Samsung. Apple unveiled a new digital watch last week that integrates several activity trackers like a step counter and a workout app. Klappo said it is developing apps for wearable devices to provide insights into how eating certain kinds of foods at specific times of the day will effect health.

The company said it is also targeting its semantics platform at restaurant menus and even grocery store chains. The dining-out app could, for example, offer detailed information about the nutritional content of each menu item. The grocery store app would expand food labeling beyond regulatory compliance to include “customized nutritional content” for all products.

Klappo said its U.S. data is available now. The company also offers a commercial API called Sensem.io as a platform for developing food and recipe applications.

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