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NHS Food Scanner App – Review

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This academic year Bounceback’s team in Manchester have been delighted to work with Emily Cooper, a second year nutritional science student studying at Manchester Metropolitan University. After seeing a new app launched by the NHS we asked her review it for us! Here’s her verdict….

Emily’s Review of the NHS Food Scanner App

Since starting such a food focused degree my awareness of the difficulties people face trying to maintain healthy eating while keeping it affordable has grown. When I saw the advert I was intrigued with the potential it could have in helping aid and educate people while also promoting the better health campaign.

How it works

Launched at the start of 2022, the food scanner app is part of the NHS Better Health Campaign.

  • It’s free to download on the Apple App Store and GooglePlay for android owners and is easy to use.
  • Simply scan the barcode on an item and see the nutritional information. Presented in a similar way to the current traffic light system that is shown on the front of many products, you can see the sugar, saturated fat and salt content.
  • Bright badges highlight particularly high or low contents. For example, green ‘Low’ badges aid in choosing healthier products. Red ‘Woah’ badges indicate extremely high levels of salt, sugar or saturated fat. The use of these colours help to catch your eye and show you what to avoid.

If you are a visual learner, then this app is great. It brings to life the nutritional information you need to make better choices. You can even convert the numbers into their equivalent in sugar cubes, fat blobs or salt packets. Presenting data this way is more interactive and from personal experience makes more sense than in numerical form. Great for helping children understand what they’re eating too!

Swaps Feature

Another bonus of this app is the swaps feature. Along with the nutritional information, it gives similar, healthier products you could swap for. You can even save your swaps for future shop trips.

Links to other information

Easy to find links to other NHS websites give a wider access to other information, including a range of easy to follow recipes. This is great in helping make meal times more exciting and show children how food effects our body by getting the whole family involved.


The app has only recently launched, so the majority of products on their data base are big name brands. As a student, I shop at Aldi so the app isn’t currently very accessible as many of their items are missing. However, on the plus side, you have a feature to add a product by uploading images of the packaging, which will then be added to their database – the more you use it the better it gets!

My Rating

While I loved some of this apps features I really struggled to use it to it’s full potential. As it doesn’t yet have own brand items from places such as Aldi I had to go out of my way to buy products that were in its database. As a student I have a limited budget for food so seeing data for cheaper non branded items would be better. However, in time I think this will improve as people use the app and input more items.

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