A new collaboration introduces a traffic light system to rank and find recipes on the internet based on their CO2 imprint, leveraging primary research at City and the technology and meal database of company, Edamam.

By Mr Shamim Quadir(Senior Communications Officer), Published

A major barrier to the adoption of low carbon lifestyles is the lack of consumer knowledge about greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) at the level of recipe and/or portion. Until now, most publicly accessible data is listed per 100g of ingredient, but people don't just eat single ingredients, they eat meals.

A newly launched, online label ranking solution, and recipe search aims to address this problem by providing carbon labels (from A+ to G) for over 70,000 of the most commonly eaten meals, and most recipes on the English language Internet.

Dr Christian Reynolds, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London has worked with Edamam, a provider of food and nutrition data to businesses, on this novel method to evaluate, classify and find recipes and meals based on their CO2 impact.

Making carbon labelling available to businesses through an ‘API’

An API is an intermediary piece of software that allows two software applications to talk to each other.

For example, when you use a third-party travel booking website to look for the best value airline flight, the website uses the APIs of airlines’ own websites to access the flight information it needs (like arrival and departure times, and costs).

The new carbon label ranking solution and corresponding recipe search functionality are initially available to businesses that want to use or build on top of this data via Edamam’s Recipe Search API.

In the future, the functionality will be provided as a real-time calculation of the carbon footprint of any recipe or meal on Edamam’s Nutrition Analysis API to businesses such as restaurants, catering companies, recipe developers, and food delivery companies.

Dr Reynolds, primary researcher on the carbon footprint data used in these APIs comments:

From our research, just providing greenhouse gas emissions is not enough. You need to provide the context of carbon labels to people. Edamam's Generic Meals database and technology is unique, so it is great to be working with such a trusted tech company.

Dr Reynolds used City, University of London's greenhouse gas emissions database which is built on peer-reviewed Life Cycle Analysis data. It features over 4,500 individual food products. For each food, the database provides upper and lower GHGE estimates to communicate the complexity of producing each item under multiple production methods, anywhere on the planet.

Victor Penev, Edamam’s CEO and founder commented:

We have always strived to empower people’s food choices with the power of data. Adding CO2 labels is a timely and very much needed decision point for the climate conscious consumer.

Tia Khan is IP & Commercialisation Consultant at City’s Research and Enterprise department, and facilitated the collaboration. She said:

The license and collaboration with Edamam is an exciting and timely opportunity for City, University of London to make its contribution to the COP26 and the wider climate change crisis agenda. Together, we can benefit global consumers to make better informed and more environmentally friendly food choices.

Find out more

Research and Enterprise at City, University of London offers new thinking and technologies to organisations of all sizes, from local businesses, authorities and social enterprises to governments and multinational corporations. This includes Licensing the intellectual property of new breakthroughs made by our researchers

For more information about the Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, visit the Centre’s webpage.

For more information about Edamam, please visit www.edamam.com or developer.edamam.com.