WikiFood.eu is a non-commercial web portal for the publication of ingredients lists on foodstuff. WikiFood is an initiative of the Luxembourgish public research center „Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor“. The web portal is funded by the Luxembourgish research fund „Fonds National de la Recherche“ within a Luxembourgish research project on food security (Sécurité alimentaire). WikiFood.eu is part of the MENSSANA project (Mobile Expert and Networking System for Systematical Analysis of Nutrition-based Allergies).
The objective of Wikifood.eu is to provide information on foodstuff and their ingredients to interested users via the internet. According to the provider of Wikifood.eu the target market consists, inter alia, of allergic persons and those suffering from food intolerance. The web portal is currently available in German, English and French. The WikiFood idea is based on the fact that – until now – the duty of declaration regarding ingredients of foodstuff within the EU does not require food producers to forward the ingredients lists to the final consumers by electronic means, for example using the means of a publicly accessible database (on food labelling see Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, which has been amended frequently ).
WikiFood enables registered users to type up the ingredients lists of products that may be interesting for the community of allergy patients and other consumers. Digital photos of EAN codes, packages, and ingredients lists allow users to check entries and to improve these if necessary. Additionally, producers of foodstuff can forward lists of ingredients of their own products to WikiFood in order to make these publicly available at no cost.
On 15 September 2006 WikiFood.de was launched officially on the occasion of the German Allergy Congress organised by the “Ärzteverband Deutscher Allergologen“. Further medical and scientific partners are the “Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg” and the “Institut für Medizinische Statistik, Informatik und Epidemiologie” (Institute for Medical Statistics, Computer Science and Epidemiology) of the University of Cologne, Germany. Currently there are approximately 12.500 food products available and approximately 1000 volunteers registered. Meanwhile Wikifood.eu was revised several times and new features were implemented such as an accompanying forum. The main focus of the forum lies on discussions regarding nutrition-based allergies and the exchange of individual experiences of the users.
One point of criticism on Wikifood has been that it is no Wiki in the original sense as only registered users can edit content. Furthermore, even registered users are not allowed to change content which has been provided by food producers themselves. The provider of Wikifood.eu defends its approach by arguing that with this method it is easier to maintain a high data quality and provide high quality information. The provider of WikiFood.eu points out at several places on the website that there is no possibility of guaranteeing accuracy, completeness and/or up-to-date status of the information provided. Therefore, in the early stages of Wikifood.eu, only registered users were allowed to search the database. The harsh criticism on this approach led to the opening of the database to non-registered internet users, too, from November 2006 onwards.
In the course of the 27th EAACI congress  by the “European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology” in Barcelona, Spain, as well as in the course of the 10th International Nutrition-based Allergy Symposium in Parma, Italy, scientists discussed the idea of Wikifood and the necessity of disclosure of food ingredients lists to consumers and nutrition-based allergy patients electronically:
- Roesch, Norbert; Arens, Adreas; Feidert, Frank; Harpes, Patrick; Moesges, Ralph: ICT supported disease management in food-based allergy, Allergy 2008 (European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology), Volume 63 Supplement 88 , 586-587)
- Rösch N, Feidert F, Arens A, Mösges R: Barcode based food identification improves the value of electronic diaries in nutrition based allergy, Proceeding of the 10th international symposium on immunological, chemical and clinical problems of food allergy. Parma (Italy), May 26–29, 2008, p. 128-129
Further information on the labelling of foodstuffs:
- German Society for nutrition, article on food labelling