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A system to retrieve consumer-facing product information

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Purpose - Databases of consumer-facing product information from food package labels are required for a variety of purposes, such as online shopping and computerised nutrition education. The aim of this research was to develop a novel method of recording and storing data in a structured electronic format. Design/methodology/approach - The research method involved the development of a computer program named "Data Entry Interface", designed for the use of people with low levels of information technology skills. This program uses a bottom-up approach to position images of a product next to data entry text boxes, to enable an operator to copy text directly into data fields. These are used in spreadsheets that link pictures of a product with its brand name, producer's name, product attributes, ingredients, allergens, nutritional information, diet information, size information, hints for opening or storage, and general warnings provided by the producers. Findings - It was found that this approach reduces the time taken to gather and enter data and also lessen the likelihood of error. The value of this program is the provision of a robust data entry system that avoids the requirement for the products to be physically present. The software has been distributed to a data warehouse in the supply chain for evaluation. Originality/value - It was developed because the authors required a specialised database named "European Database of Manufacturers' Products and Packaging" (ED-MaPP), to demonstrate the functionality of a prototype assistive technology product, named TELE-EYE, developed in the European Union (EU) PACKAGE project.
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Keywords: Customer Orientation; Data Handling; Databases; Food Products; Labelling; Product Information

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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