You don't have to be Jamie Oliver to know that a lot of food contains unhealthy ingredients but certain people need to know exactly what is in their food, and whether or not it fits in with their religious or dietary requirements. App developer Faizal Mohammed has recognised this need and is creating a variety of apps which scan ingredients labels and automatically determine the status of food additives.
The Halal Scanner and Vegetarian Scanner app work in exactly the same way. You take a picture of an ingredients label, the app then recognises the additives and cross-references them against a database. The camera-based system only works with the iPhone 3GS as you need auto-focus to take a good shot but you can still use the database to manually check additives on the iPhone 2G and 3G, and the iPod Touch.
According to Faizal, the apps only scan additives because it's less complicated than scanning the entire label but he recognises that people will want to check other ingredients, so he wants to add them to the apps' searchable databases. Faizal is also keen to create similar apps for other dietary needs, such as people with allergies. Both apps cost £1.19 [Halal scanner iTunes link] [Vegetarian scanner iTunes link].