IF you or members of your family have food allergies or are vegan then shopping and eating out could well be a minefield. However it doesn’t have to be thanks to a clever app called LiberEat. This is a one-stop resource that allows you to scan the barcodes on products in the supermarket and then filter products and menus.

The app, created by a fast-growing Aberdeen-based technology company, has been specifically designed to make life easier for people with dietary requirements – and the people whose responsibility it is to buy food for those with allergies and intolerances.

It’s free and really easy to use.

Simply create your own profile by ticking the boxes of the foods you want to avoid – shellfish, nuts, dairy or gluten, for example – and the app filters those out.

Users can also filter out specific ingredients they may not want to consume on ethical or environmental grounds, such as palm oil.

And, if you sometimes struggle to come up with interesting ideas for tasty meals at home, there is also a bank of 430 recipes to try – all of them contributed by members of the growing LiberEat community, including bloggers and partners at The Vegan Society.

Currently working with 1500 restaurants, including Browns, Pret A Manger, All Bar One and Miller & Carter, LiberEat allows diners to filter menus before they arrive while shoppers simply scan barcodes for immediate answers on whether or not a product is suitable – there are 134,629 products linked to the platform and that number is growing.

It can currently be used in the aisles of Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op and Waitrose and the app is also working towards including even more restaurant chains. As chief executive, Barry Leaper, who co-founded Aberdeen-based LiberEat with Louise Cahill in 2016, explains: “It’s all about making life easier and safer for everyone with dietary requirements and the robust technology behind our app can reduce potentially harmful food allergy incidents.”

While the app was initially envisioned for those with allergies and intolerances, it has also been embraced by the vegan and vegetarian communities to help them navigate their options in the grocery aisles and restaurant menus.

Barry adds: “There can also be religious, environmental or ethical reasons why people don’t want to eat certain products or ingredients so the app is helping them too.”

LiberEat has also secured the support of partners such as The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark in its efforts to support the estimated 13 million people in the UK with food allergies and other dietary requirements.

The app was launched on the back of problems Louise had experienced as a busy nurse when shopping and eating out due to her food allergies while Barry was also aware of dietary issues with his own family and friends.

“We decided to launch our own app because there was nothing else out there that worked simply and safely, showing what you could have when grocery shopping or eating out,” he explains.

LiberEat’s core technology and consumer app took over three years to develop with support from nutrition academics at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University and The Rowett Institute.

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“The technology is very robust and is continuing to evolve,” says Barry. “We’re hugely excited about where it will take us in the future.

“We discovered that our technology can outperform processes used by even the largest food businesses to ensure accuracy of information food labels, menus and supplier date and act as a safety net. This has taken the business in a new direction.

“This use of the technology has become a really significant part of the business and has the potential to make allergen and ingredient information safer and more accurate across the food industry – and that’s a really cool development.

“The app is also growing fast and we are raising investment to accelerate growth.

“LiberEat is at the stage where we’ve done the hard part in terms of building the initial technology development and now we’re growing fast and working towards expanding LiberEat internationally. It’s very exciting.”

LiberEat was named as one of the 10 most exciting tech start-ups in the UK, winning the Tech Nation Rising Stars awards for both Scotland and the UK, and was a recent recipient of funding in the high-profile Scottish Edge competition.

“LiberEat is as much about minimising risk for food brands, restaurant chains and contract caterers as it is making buying and eating food safe for consumers – our goal is to be the gold standard for the food industry across the board,” says Barry.