How emojis could help people with food allergies
How emojis could help people with food allergies These emoji cupcakes won't be much help in identifying food allergies, but future emojis could be a big help. (Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr/Kate Ter Haar)
How emojis could help people with food allergies
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Someday soon an emoji might literally save lives.

Hiroyuki Komatsu, a Google engineer, submitted a proposal to add a range of new icons to the standard emoji library that could help those with food allergies understand what they are eating anywhere in the world.

“Emoji should cover characters representing major food allergens,” Komatsu wrote in his proposal. “It enables people to understand what [ingredients] are used in foods even in foreign countries and safely select meals.”

The reason that emojis are so universal is because they are chosen and developed by the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit corporation that oversees, develops and maintains how text is represented in all software products and standards, writes Alex Swerdloff for Vice Munchies. It’s thanks to the Unicode Standard that when you text a friend six pizza emojis, they’ll see those six pizza slices on their phone regardless of whether they use an iPhone or an Android.

Because emojis are everywhere and iconic, they could be helpful for restaurants and food packaging designers to communicate whether a product is made with common allergens. But as Komatsu’s proposal argues, many of the most common food allergens – such as peanuts, soy and milk – are missing or poorly represented by the current emoji library. There is an emoji for octopus, but nothing for squid; there is a loaf of bread that could symbolize gluten, but a bundle of wheat could be clearer and more direct when labeling foods.

It’s not uncommon for the Unicode Consortium to add new emojis to the library: several food-related emojis debuted last June, including a long-awaited taco emoji, and Apple included support for multiracial emojis in a recent iOS update. An artist even recreated Moby-Dick in emoji characters. Some might bemoan the continuing death of the written word if Komatsu’s proposal is accepted, but look on the bright side: if you ever see that happy poop on a carton, you’ll know to stay away.

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What do you think would be most helpful about having emojis for food allergies?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • Bradyb-hug
    5/10/2019 - 01:18 p.m.

    The reason why people are putting emojis on food because it can help with people that have allergies they say that what ingredients are the food. And they see the emojis on Iphone or android and the emojis help at resturants on food packaging.Such as peanut butter or skin milk those are ingridients thatemojis can label.

  • Leanna D-der
    5/31/2019 - 03:09 p.m.

    One thing that I think would be very helpful is on the tag you can make a list of emojis that others can read, without actually reading. Also, since no one really reads the long list of ingredients, emojis would be very helpful. Not only that but, with emojis little kids that don't know how to read can see the emojis and know not to eat it if they have allergies.

  • Magnus T-der
    5/31/2019 - 03:13 p.m.

    There should be a gluten emoji.

    • Leanna D-der
      5/31/2019 - 03:20 p.m.

      There really should have a gluten emoji and a shellfish emoji and maybe a allergy emoji, but I don't know how that would look like.

  • GuadalupeA-aer
    8/08/2019 - 06:11 p.m.

    Something that would be most helpful about having emojis for food allergies would be how it could make an easier process for us to inform our friends or family members if there are any food allergens where they could be headed to, like a party or a family gathering. In doing so it would save us time especially if we are at work or just simply too busy.

  • MavisM-lam
    11/07/2019 - 09:43 a.m.

    I think that having emojis to help communicate what possible allergens are in a product could be really helpful for people, especially if they're traveling and have to be able to understand a different language to know if the food is safe for them to eat. Emojis would make it easier for people to quickly make a safe food decision.

  • EllieS-lam
    11/07/2019 - 12:01 p.m.

    I think it could be very helpful in some situations. If you travel to another country and can't read their language you can simply look for the emoji. But what happens if you have an allergy that isn't represented by an emoji. Also there can be manufacturing issues where an emoji is supposed to be there or not, what do you do then?

  • SethN-lam
    11/07/2019 - 02:13 p.m.

    How will they make it clear that a certain emoji could stand for something else? (The octopus emoji stands for octopus but what stands for squid?)

  • andrewt-wha
    12/19/2019 - 01:14 p.m.

    Yes so people can know what to stay away from in a fun way

  • maddiz-wha
    12/19/2019 - 01:33 p.m.

    I think what would be most helpful would be if someone is trying to buy a gift for someone they could know what is in the product.

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