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Product, Service & Design Innovation
New App Demystifies Nutrition Labels for Those with Special Dietary Needs

A new app is eliminating our last excuse for breaking our diet: Pinto aggregates nutrition information from over 100,000 of the most commonly eaten foods in the US and creates personalized nutrition labels that focuses specifically on the ingredients and nutritional information users are concerned about.

Whether you’re eating special foods for medical reasons — diabetes, celiac, heart disease, high cholesterol, nut allergies — or are committed to a vegan, paleo, Whole30 or keto diet, Pinto helps users cut through potential food label confusion and alert them to any dangerous or diet-destroying properties.

Following in the footsteps of other food tech startups such as Habit — which analyzes users’ body metrics to create personalized nutrition solutions — Pinto is an NYC-based technology platform created by a team of designers, dietitians, data scientists and creative technologists who all share a common mission of making food and nutrition information more open, simple and personalized to the world. Via the app or desktop platform, enter your diet and goals, and Pinto can immediately help you say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to certain foods.

“What we saw in the space was there’s a tremendous amount of data and information that’s potentially out there about food and about nutrition, but the way that data is sourced and the way that it gets to consumers isn’t really from the lens of what a consumer today needs,” CEO and founder Sam Slover told Fast Company. “Essentially what we’re able to do is, given any user and their diet, we pull out the exact information you need to know about a product.”

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A nutrition information database of this type didn’t exist, so the Pinto team built it from scratch, working directly with retailers including Kroger and Whole Foods — which gave Pinto nutritional info on nearly 2,000 items from its own-brand 365 line of products — and food manufacturers such as Campbell’s, which supplied Pinto with the nutritional profile of its more than 1,500 products.

While the app is free to consumers, Slover told Fortune that Pinto intends to make money by selling the detailed product information it has amassed to food sellers and retailers.

“Obviously, they know what they’re selling in terms of ingredients,” he said. “But they don’t know how customers are seeing that inventory. A restaurant can learn how much of its menu is Whole30-compliant and shift marketing around that. We offer that data automatically, programmatically, across the board. The share of Americans with specific dietary needs and wants isn’t going anywhere. It’s only going to grow. What we sell is a way to lock in a relationship with them.”

One of Pinto’s secret weapons is its ability to uncover hidden sugars in foods, which often have a variety of names on nutrition labels. Slover told Fortune, there are more than 250 ways that food companies obscure the presence of sugar in ingredient lists. Wonder Bread, for example, lists it three ways: as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and sugar; while Cool Ranch Doritos lists it four ways: as corn syrup solids, dextrose, lactose and sugar.

“Our team’s favorites are muscovado, sucanat, rice syrup, golden syrup and HFCS. The first two sound almost like a spice,” he said. “But because this is data, there’s no hiding anymore.”

The pinto app launched earlier this month, and Slover said the team is already working on a second version, which will include a filter for pregnancy needs and an ability to integrate two profiles’ needs so that a gluten-free husband and vegetarian wife can plan their meals together.

“The data is all there already. It’s just a matter of building layers to read it,” he says. “A new diet could be invented tomorrow and we’d be able to add it to Pinto within a week.”


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