Why do products have different score scales?

Depending on the type of product you have scanned, we will use a different scale of Protein, Fat, Sugars etc, to calculate the Nutritional Value element of the product. This is in accordance with the Heatlh Star Rating guidelines as determined buy nutritionists

What is the “Fat Ratio”?

The “Fat Ratio” only applies to butters, fats, oils and margarine and measures the ratio of Saturated Fat to Total Fat. The lower the amount of Saturated Fat in this ratio the healthier the product. Our Australian diets are high in Saturated Fats and limiting their intake will lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Why do some products not have a health score?

Some products do not have a health score because the NutriScore is not adapted for: Infant formula Alcohol Protein powders & Suplements Sugar Pet Foods Salt

Why do Infant Formulas not have a Health Score?

Babies nutritional requirements are very different than older children or adults. The NutriScore calculation is not well adapted in determining the health score of Infant formula and for this reason we have not given any health scores to Infant formula. Should you see a health score on any Infant formula in our app this is a mistake. Please use the navigation in the app to alert us to this mistake so that it may be rectified.

Does Init score Pet Foods?

We do not score Pet Foods. Pets and humans have different nutritional needs so the NutriScore can not be used to determine the health score of a pet food.

How’s the database built?

The database has been built over any months thanks to crowd-sourced submissions by beta app Users. We don’t have every single product in our database (yet) but we’re getting closer every day thanks to user submissions.

What is Init?

A 100% independent app that helps Australians to choose & buy healthier products. Users simply scan the barcode of a food or cosmetics product and the app gives the User a colour-coded health risk score: excellent, good, mediocre, or bad.

Who does Init help?

Anyone who has difficulty interpreting product labels. Research shows that less than 1 in 10 adults can accurately interpret food nutrition and ingredient labels. Even fewer understand what artificial food additives are and what each food additive number means. So we built an app to help. Simply scan a food or cosmetic barcode and Init will tell you whether that product is excellent, good, mediocre or bad for your health.

How to download the app

Init only works as a mobile application, available for a both iOS and Android devices. Links to download the app are below iOS - https://apps.apple.com/au/app/init-food-beauty-analyser/id1479374451 Android - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.init

Why build it? Doesn’t Australia already have a Health Star Rating system?

The Australian Health Star Rating system began approx five years ago … and soon after its introduction, complaints from nutritionists began about the system’s inherent design flaws (examples here, here, here and here). Since then, despite a formal government review into the system, not a great deal has changed. Amongst many recommendations, the review suggested that the HSR system continue (with tweaks to improve it) and that it remain voluntary for food manufacturers to display a HSR rating. No specific timeline exists for when (or even if) the revised HSR system will go live.
We thought we’d take a crack at doing a better (and quicker) job - using the same nutrition science the HSR system uses - but with similar additional tweaks to the formula to improve it. Init is the result.

Why are some products “intentionally not rated”?

If you scan a product that is not a food or personal care product, you will see a notice that it is left “intentionally” not rated. That’s because we can only apply health ratings to food and cosmetics products, using current scientific guidelines and research data. Unfortunately health guidelines are not provided to differentiate several common product categories (including but not limited to): - Alcohol - Baby formulas - Pet food - Chemical-based household cleaning products - Non-food products - Other additional categories

How is Init financed? Are you selling my data or using it to target me with ads?

Init is independently self-funded. We don’t gather, store or sell data about products that you have scanned and we don’t gather personally-identifiable data so that you can be targeted with ads. Our business model is based on providing a quality, freemium software product. We intend to release a paid version of the app with additional features.

Can food & cosmetics manufacturers pay for a promoted product?

No. We do not work with any supermarket, brand or agri-food group. Our ratings are based on international nutrition guidelines and clinical data about food additives.

How are food and drink products scored?

Init’s food health scores are based on five criteria:
Nutritional quality The nutritional component is based on the Nutri-Score formula, created by the French Public Health Agency and now being adopted in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and other European nations.
Similar to Australia’s HSR, the Nutriscore method takes the following elements into account: calories, sugar, salt, saturated fats, protein, fibre, and fruit, vegetable or nut content. A 2018 research study found the Nutriscore was the most effective front-of-pack nutritional system (even better than Australia's HSR system).
Analysis of ingredients and additives The ingredients and additives used in food are significant factors in its overall healthiness so we this element contributes heavily to the food’s health rating.
We assess all ingredients but pay particular attention to discretionary ingredients such as salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives etc that are designed to enhance the flavour/sales of foods.
The ingredients analysis is based on data and research-based recommendations of the World Public Health Nutrition Association, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Australian Food Composition Database, as well as several other nutrition science sources.
Each artificial additive is assigned a risk level based on various studies: No Risk (green dot), Low Risk (yellow dot), Medium Risk (orange dot), or High Risk (red dot).
Information about the risks associated with each additive, as well as the corresponding scientific sources, will be available soon in the application.

Whether a product is organic Organic products receive a further boost in their score vs non-organic products. As an example, an organic milk would typically rate higher than inorganic milk, due to potential exposures to chemical pesticides during its production. The level of food processing We estimate the level of food processing that has been applied to a product. Ultra processed or highly processed foods are penalised in our scoring system. but also are indicative of the level of processing that the food has been subject to. Generally speaking, highly processed and “ultra-processed” foods should be kept to a minimum for a healthy diet.

How are cosmetic products scored?

Init scores cosmetics products based on an analysis of each ingredient contained in the product.
Each chemical ingedient is assigned a health risk level according to its potential health effects: ie, is it a potential carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, allergen or irritant?
Ingredients are classified into four risk categories:

  • No Risk (green dot)
  • Low risk (yellow dot)
  • Medium risk (orange dot)
  • High risk (red dot)
If a product contains chemicals with a potentially high health risk, it will score more poorly than a cosmetic product with ingredients assessed as lower risk.
These risk assessments of chemicals are based on published scientific studies, as well as usage recommendations and directives from international governmental cosmetic regulators. (Note: Australia has no such specific domestic regulations.)
Any potential health effect of a specific ingredient is displayed in the Init app, along with citations to the relevant scientific sources.

What are "Recommended" products?

"Recommendations" are healthier alternatives to products that you have scanned. If you have scanned a product that is not "Excellent", the app will try to recommend up to 10 better products from the same category … for instance, “Excellent” or "Good" muesli bars are recommended if a “Bad” muesli bar is scanned. Although a dieitician might recommend replacing a muesli bar with a piece of whole fruit, the Init app tries to find only “very similar but healthier” alternatives. Sometimes a recommendation won’t be given because a better alternative was not found Recommendations are unbiased: No brand pays to have products be “Recommended”