Big Ham sues Yuka

Meat Aisle

French application Yuka, installed by 24 million users, allows consumers to check food and cosmetic products on their health score and possible risks. The app provides information on the product’s nutritional value and its impact on the environment from carbon emissions to packaging on a score out of 100.

The Yuka database includes a total of more than 1.5 million food products and more than 500,000 cosmetic items. In addition, 800 new products are added to the database every day. Yuka uses a simple colour code to indicate a product’s impact on health — excellent - green, good - yellow, moderate - orange or poor - red.

Unfavourable Yuka scores have motivated retailer Intermarché to reformulate the recipes of 900 of its private label food products by removing additives or by cutting salt or sugar. Auchan, Monoprix and Leclerc are also working on recipes that result in higher Yuka scores. Beauty brands Caudalie and L’Occitane have removed silicones and PEGs from their products when Yuka started grading cosmetics.

Nevertheless, not everyone is a supporter of the app. Recently, the French butchers and charcuterie sector have sued Yuka because the app assigns low scores to food products that contain nitrates, a preservative that improves shelf life and protects colour. The ham makers won a first court case in Paris after a judge ruled that Yuka had to remove any mention of health risks posed by nitrates from the app. The company plans to appeal.

The actions from companies show just how powerful a popular app such as Yuka can be. After the launch in France in 2017, it has expanded operations to some ten more countries.