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Snap-n-Eat nutrition app calculates nutritional info from a picture of food

Snap-n-Eat nutrition app calculates nutritional info from a picture of food | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A group of researchers with the nonprofit SRI Internationalhave developed a nutrition app that can detect the caloric and nutritional content of food from a picture that you snap with your smartphone.

Obesity is a major problem in the United States – we’ve all seen the powerpoint slides showing CDC maps of obesity prevalence spreading over the past fifty years. Apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt let you track the food you eat in a very detailed way. We also recently reviewed Rise, a platform that lets you snap pictures of your meals and get feedback from certified nutritionists.


Researchers with the nonprofit SRI international recently published a paper describing Snap’n’Eat, an app that lets you snap a picture of your meal and calculates nutritional information like caloric content automatically for you.


Basically, the app figures out which segments of the picture contain food and then tries to figure out what type of food is in each segment. Based on that determination, it estimates the caloric content and other nutritional information.


They found that when dealing with a limited set of samples (fifteen in their tests), they were able to achieve 85% accuracy. But when expanding to a larger sample set, the app did not work as well.

They do note that it may be possible to improve the system by having users “train” the app early on; if the app can be taught about the users typical diet, then its accuracy could be improved.


In some ways, the ability to automatically detect nutritional information from a picture is the “holy grail” of diet apps. It would make diet tracking incredibly easy. However, this study highlights the current challenges and limitations of available technology. Further work is certainly needed but it’s a goal worth working towards given the scope of the problem it seeks to address.


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China bans U.S. poultry, eggs imports amid avian flu fears: USDA

China bans U.S. poultry, eggs imports amid avian flu fears: USDA | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

China has banned all imports of U.S. poultry, poultry products and eggs amid recent reports of highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza found in the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

All poultry and poultry related products shipped from the United States after Jan. 8 would be returned or destroyed, according to the agency and the U.S. trade group USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.

The ban, effective as of Jan. 8, also applies to poultry breeding stock, which includes live chicks and hatching eggs.

From January through November last year, U.S. exports of poultry products sent to China reached nearly $272 million, said Toby Moore, spokesman for the trade group.

U.S. chicken exports to China from January-November 2014 was 239.768 million lbs, consisting primarily of chicken feet or paws. During that same period, China imported 55.923 million lbs of U.S. turkey.

The country's import of eggs from the United States is marginal, according to industry sources.

"This move is somewhat hypocritical as there have been zero findings of high pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial poultry flock in the U.S. and, China already has a variety of avian influenza strains," said Brett Stuart, chief executive of Global AgriTrends in Denver, Colorado.

China's actions came after Hong Kong in late December suspended imports of certain U.S. poultry and poultry products after two separate virus strains were identified in Whatcom County, Washington, including H5N2 in northern pintail ducks, according to USDA.

This same strain has killed thousands of birds on two Canadian farms in British Columbia.

Additionally, the highly pathogenic 85N8 strain was confirmed in guinea fowl and chickens in a backyard poultry flock in the city of Winston, Oregon.

Neither virus has been found in U.S. commercial poultry. No human cases involving either viral strain have been detected in the United States or Canada, and there are no immediate public health concerns, said USDA.


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Tyson continues effort to cut antibiotics from chicken production

Tyson continues effort to cut antibiotics from chicken production | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Tyson Foods Inc has removed gentamicin, a key antibiotic for human use, from company hatcheries, the company told Reuters on Tuesday.

Arkansas-based Tyson, the nation's largest chicken producer, said the drug and other antibiotics have not been used at its 35 hatcheries since Oct. 1, 2014. The company had not previously given details of what drugs were used at the hatcheries, where chicks are born and kept briefly before being moved to poultry farms.

Gentamicin is a member of an antibiotic class considered "highly important" in human medicine by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The poultry industry has long been under pressure to stop feeding medically important antibiotics to otherwise healthy livestock. Meat companies have used the drugs both to stave off disease and to promote more rapid growth.

Last week, McDonald's Corp said its U.S. restaurants will gradually stop buying chicken raised with antibiotics vital to fighting human infections. Tyson Foods is a major chicken supplier to McDonald's.

Tyson told Reuters this week it is also testing alternatives to medically-important antibiotics for use on the farms that house its chickens after they leave the hatcheries. It says it does not use antibiotics for growth promotion on the farms, but does use them, according to its website, "when prescribed by a veterinarian to treat or prevent disease."

Rival chicken producer Perdue Farms announced last summer that it had stopped using all antibiotics in its hatcheries, including gentamicin, because it wanted "to move away from conventional antibiotic use" due to "growing consumer concern and our own questions about the practice."

Gentamicin has been commonly used in hatcheries to fight off infection or prevent disease, including in fertilized eggs, livestock veterinarians and other poultry producers say.

Tyson sees the policy shift as "a significant first step toward our goal of reducing the use of antibiotics that are also used in human medicine," according to its website.

Tyson has reduced the volume of medically-important antibiotics used in its chicken business by 84 percent since 2011 and the "vast majority of the antibiotics used to raise our chickens are never used in humans," according to a company statement.

While veterinary use of antibiotics is legal, the risk is that overuse could spur the creation of so-called superbugs that develop cross-resistance to antibiotics used to treat humans. Reuters found last year that major U.S. poultry firms were administering antibiotics to their flocks on the farm far more pervasively than regulators realized.


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