FoodSwitch New Zealand app

FoodSwitch New Zealand app

  • An app to help you find out what’s in the food you’re eating, so you can make simple switches to healthier options.
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FoodSwitch New Zealand app By George Institute for Global Health


  • Barcode scanning.
  • Health star ratings (rates products from 0.5–5 stars – the higher the star rating, the healthier the food).
  • Traffic light labels (green, amber and red) rating food for salt, sugar, fat and saturated fat content.
  • Can be organised around certain diets.
Country of origin New Zealand
Clinical review 

4 star review

Read a clinical review below.

Security and privacy Does the app:
  • Collect medical information? No
  • Require a login? No
  • Have password protection? No
  • Have a privacy policy? No
  • Require internet access to use? Yes

Read more about safety and security when using apps.

Tips to improve your privacy and security [PNG, 200 KB] Health Navigator Charitable Trust, NZ
Staying safe online(external link) Netsafe, NZ

Cost Free
How to get the app

This app allows you to search and compare nutritional information on food products. By scanning the barcode of a food label, you get easy-to-interpret nutritional information presented using colour-coded, traffic light labels of red, amber and green. You get immediate suggestions for healthier alternative foods or products.  

The app has 3 main selections — Foodswitch, SaltSwitch and GlutenSwitch.

  • Foodswitch is handy for any shopper, as it compares products based on energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content. 
  • SaltSwitch is useful if you are on a salt-restricted diet, eg, if you have high blood pressure or kidney disease. The app tries to identify similar products with a healthier profile and less salt.
  • GlutenSwitch is useful if you are looking for gluten-free products. The app tries to identify similar products that are reported as gluten free.  

If the product you are searching for is not found in the app database, you are prompted to send through photos of the front package, nutritional panel and ingredients. For a more detailed description of the app, see Google Play(external link) or iTunes(external link) and, for a detailed review, see reviews below.

Note: This app was developed jointly by the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI), New Zealand, and the George institute, Australia. Because NIHI became unable to support the app licence costs, the app no longer includes New Zealand supermarket data. This means its name has changed from FoodSwitch App NZ to FoodSwitch App. It also means this version is out of date in terms of products found in New Zealand. It does, however, include a crowd sourcing feature to improve it over time.


✔ Food star system is easy to use.

Trusted sources are used to develop the app.

✔ Good to get quick information about the food choices made.  

✔ Can keep a favourites or recent list.

✔ Ability to send barcode and photos of (new) food products to administrators for inclusion in a future update.

Serving size shown as 100g so you need to be careful with the amount you’re actually eating.

Some of the foods may have the same or better rating in the star system but the nutrients may not necessarily be a better profile (some are lower in salt but higher in sugar). So you may need to dig a bit deeper to get all the information you need to make a healthier choice.


Clinical review

4 star review

: Katrina Pace, New Zealand Registered Dietitian, Words for Wellness
Date of review: June 2020
Platform: Android
Version: 2.4
ReviewThe FoodSwitch app is a good app for New Zealanders to learn more about the food they’re eating. The app allows you to scan the bar code on food labels to find out nutrition information and make healthier choices. By using it you can learn about the energy, saturated fat, sugar and sodium content of the food choices you make, and compare it to other similar products that may be healthier depending on your nutrition needs.

The app is useful for anyone who wants to learn more about the food they’re eating and wants to make informed choices. Because FoodSwitch App has filters for salt (SaltSwitch) and gluten (GlutenSwitch) containing foods, it can also be a useful guide for people with high blood pressure or kidney disease who want to reduce their salt intake, or people who are avoiding gluten-containing foods.  
Safety concerns: Has a disclaimer about gluten-free switch foods explaining that some food may be coded red (contains gluten) if it hasn’t declared gluten or not, which may mean people unnecessarily avoid foods. Also, the serving sizes are per 100g, which may not be the actual serving size, which is fine for comparison between products but not to give you information about the nutrition you’re getting at the meal/snack you’re eating.
New Zealand relevance: Highly relevant. The app uses the New Zealand food star rating system that is seen on our food packets. Some products have the Australian names (eg, Woolworths for Countdown).

Clinical review

4 star review

: Dietitian App Review Working Group, Auckland DHB
Date of review: July 2015
Version: 2.1
Review: A useful and simple tool to assist with choosing healthier food options within a food type. However, users must be aware that the lack of consideration of portion size of pre-packaged products may lead to inappropriate food choices. At times, the healthier suggestions remain poor food choices.  
Safety concerns: None – no risks identified. The app uses a large, independent New Zealand packaged food database (ie, a partnership between the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) NZ, George Institute for Global Health (Australia) and Bupa NZ.
New Zealand relevance: Highly relevant – targeted to a New Zealand audience. The information is New Zealand focused and based on New Zealand foods. There are currently more than 8000 foods in the database.

Dr Helen Eyles from NIHI talks about FoodSwitch

(NIHI, NZ 2013)

How does FoodSwitch work?

(The George Institute, 2012)


The following references relate to articles about apps for weight loss.

  1. Dunford E, Trevena H, Goodsell C, et al. FoodSwitch: A mobile phone app to enable consumers to make healthier food choices and crowdsourcing of national food composition data(external link) JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2014 Aug 21;2(3):e37.
  2. Coughlin SS, Whitehead M, Sheats JQ. Smartphone applications for promoting healthy diet and nutrition: a literature review(external link) Jacobs J Food Nutr. 2015;2(3):021.
  3. Chen J, Cade JE, Allman-Farinelli M. The most popular smartphone apps for weight loss: a quality assessment(external link) JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015 Dec 16;3(4):e104. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.4334.
  4. Flores Mateo G, Granado-Font E, Ferré-Grau C, Montaña-Carreras X. Mobile phone apps to promote weight loss and increase physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis(external link). J Med Internet Res. 2015 Nov 10;17(11):e253. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4836.

Disclaimer: The NZ Health App Library is a free consumer service to help you decide whether a health app would be suitable for you. Our review process is independent. We have no relationship with the app developers or companies and no responsibility for the service they provide. This means that if you have an issue with one of the apps we have reviewed, you will need to contact the app developer or company directly.

Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.