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New App Aims To Make Product Labels More Transparent


Open Label is sort of Yelp meets Wikipedia for the stuff you buy at a grocery store. With a quick swipe over a barcode you can see if a product has GMO's, or if the company treats its workers well.

Users can add comments about the ethics of a brand, or even link to articles or recipes.

Open Label's CEO Scott Kennedy says, "The fact that there's so many products and there's so many different people who want to know so many different things about those products, necessitates a crowd powered open label."

There are other apps on the market with a similar goal, like Buycott or GoodGuide.

Kennedy says there's momentum to make product labels more transparent.

"It's all coming from one source which is the brand or manufacturer which is obviously problematic because they're quite frankly interested in selling you something," he says.

At Raley's grocery store I tried Open Label on several products.

When I scanned Kraft lemon jello, the Union of Concerned Scientists told me, "Kraft receives a zero out of 100 on the palm oil scorecard, and Kraft doesn't have any commitments to use only deforestation free palm oil."

I scan many products but about half of the items I try do not have entries yet because the app is so new. 

The app has indexed over 20 million products, and created over 100,000 labels, but it's eventual success hinges on user generated content.

Open Label is based in San Francisco. The company received half a million dollar seed investment from angels at Google, Amazon, and Social Impact ventures. 

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