EWG’s Ken Cook Announces New Landmark Food Project at TEDxManhattan

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For Immediate Release: 
Friday, April 4, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Environmental Working Group (EWG) plans to launch a new food database and mobile app that aims to change the way Americans eat and shop for foods.

EWG’s president Ken Cook announced some of the details at a TEDxManhattan event in New York City last month.

“There are lots of ways…to fix the food system,” Cook told the audience. “One of them is to make it easy for consumers to begin identifying some of the clear problems with it.” 

His full remarks are now available online

Cook said the food database project was inspired by EWG’s flagship Skin Deep database and app. The popular website provides safety information for more than 69,000 cosmetics and personal care products and has been searched nearly 233 million times since 2004.  The Skin Deep app has been downloaded more than 188,000 times since it launched last fall.

“With the food database, we want to have the same impact as we’ve had with Skin Deep,” Cook said.         

The food database, due out this fall, will house information on more than 80,000 supermarket foods and more than 5,000 ingredients in a simple, searchable online and mobile format to help consumers shop smarter and eat healthier. Foods will be rated on three factors: nutrition, hazard concerns and degree of processing.

“People are craving more information about their food and they want it right at their fingertips,” Cook said later. “It is our hope that this new shopping tool will guide them to foods that are good for them and the planet.” 

A team of EWG researchers is building the database with data gathered by FoodEssentials, a company that compiles details about ingredients in foods sold in American supermarkets.   

Following Vani Hari's No Way Subway Campaign, EWG researchers ran the azodicarbonamide chemical, better known as the “yoga mat chemical,” through the food database and found it in nearly 500 breads and snacks. Since the release of the findings, some manufacturers of commercial baked goods have pledged to “remove” the chemical from their products.  

“This is one great example of what can happen when you build a database that will not only inform consumers and change their shopping habits, but will pressure food manufacturers to clean up their food and disclose more of their ingredients,” Cook said. “There will be countless examples of its impact once it is available to the public.”

To keep up with the latest information on the food database sign up to receive EWG’s email updates.

Photo courtesy of TEDxManhattan

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