June 10, 2007 This isn't a gizmo so much as a fantastic free Web service that we see as being exceptionally useful. It's tough enough working out how not to order the monkey brains when you're in a foreign country where you don't speak the language - let alone communicating to restaurant staff and stall vendors about food allergies that could ruin your holiday and even cost you your life. Food-info.net is a great free service that lets you download printable PDF files of more than 200 allergenic food items and their translations in a wide range of languages.
Next time you go on holiday you can take a wordlist in thirty languages with all the food ingredients that you're allergic to with the names of ingredients as they appear on food packaging. Researchers and students at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have translated the names of allergenic food ingredients into most European languages and a number of international languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Arabic and Swahili. The list is available at www.food-info.net/allergy.htm.
The initiators of Food-info.net and EFFoST (European Federation of Food Science and Technology) provide these wordlists for people with an allergy or intolerance for certain foods. The list includes more than 200 ingredients such as lactose, hazelnuts, shellfish, soya and gluten, sorted into categories (dairy, nuts, spices, additives etc). The wordlists can be downloaded as PDF files and offer translations from almost any language into thirty other languages, so that nearly 700 language combinations are currently available. Travellers planning to pass through Denmark, Sweden and Finland, for example, can get translations from German into all three languages, as well as between the three languages (e.g. from Finnish to Danish) and from these languages into Dutch, English or any other language in the database.
The words in the list can be compared with the list of ingredients on food labels and packaging, making it easier for travellers to identify the ingredients they need to avoid. The list can also be shown in restaurants when asking whether a dish contains a particular ingredient. This should help many tourists who find it difficult to eat out or buy food when they are abroad.
The wordlists have been translated from English - the teaching language for master students at Wageningen University - into the other languages by staff and students, and by partner universities throughout Europe. Nowadays, there are students from about 100 countries at Wageningen University. A few languages are not yet available, as the translations completed by universities in various countries still need to be double-checked. These languages, which include Icelandic and Hungarian, will be made available as soon as they have been checked.