How emojis could help people with food allergies
Someday soon an emoji might literally save lives.
Hiroyuki Komatsu is a Google engineer. He submitted a proposal. He proposed to add a range of new icons to the standard emoji library. It could help those with food allergies. It could help them understand what they are eating anywhere in the world.
“Emoji should cover characters representing major food allergens.” That's what Komatsu wrote in his proposal. “It enables people to understand what [ingredients] are used in foods even in foreign countries and safely select meals.”
Emojis are universal. They are chosen and developed by the Unicode Consortium. It is a non-profit corporation. It oversees, develops and maintains how text is represented. This is true in all software products and standards. That's according to Alex Swerdloff writing for Vice Munchies. You can thank the Unicode Standard when you text a friend six pizza emojis. Your friends sees those six pizza slices on their phone thanks to the Unicode Standard. This is true regardless of whether they use an iPhone or an Android.
Emojis are everywhere and iconic. This makes them helpful for restaurants and food packaging designers. They can communicate whether a product is made with common allergens. But many of the most common food allergens are missing or poorly represented. This is in regards to the current emoji library. These common food allergens include peanuts and soy. It also includes milk.
That's what Komatsu’s proposal argues. There is an emoji for octopus. But there is nothing for squid. There is a loaf of bread that could symbolize gluten. But a bundle of wheat could be clearer. The emojis could be more direct when labeling foods.
It’s not uncommon for the Unicode Consortium to add new emojis to the library. For example, several food-related emojis debuted last June. These included a long-awaited taco emoji. 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 you can look on the bright side. If you ever see that happy poop on a carton, you’ll know to stay away.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What do you think would be most helpful about having emojis for food allergies?
Write your answers in the comments section below