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 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.

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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


COMMENTS (46)
  • JacobH-dec
    5/06/2019 - 12:22 p.m.

    It would help because when they don’t understand what is the type of food. For bread it’s gluten. For all these different emojis it means something. That’s why I think it’s most helpful.

  • Rachel-E2
    5/06/2019 - 01:11 p.m.

    I think this could be a very good way to save lives. In enjoyed this article a lot. We need to try harder to help people with allergies. And emojis are well known to lots of people. Thank you Komatsu!

  • Weston-E2
    5/06/2019 - 03:52 p.m.

    wow Hiroyuki Komatsu is really smart for making emojis that help people that have allergies and are going to different contents because it can be hard to tell the ingredients.

  • Will-E2
    5/08/2019 - 10:14 a.m.

    This article is about emojis that could save lives. It is because emojis are universal so in foreign countries you still know what is in your food. However some emojis are not created yet. But they could add them. I think that they should replace the ingredients list with emojis. I picked this article because I have food allergies. this is a really good article.

  • CharlesT-
    5/08/2019 - 01:44 p.m.

    I think it is really weird that emojies could help alergies

  • MarleyM-
    5/08/2019 - 01:53 p.m.

    do you think would be most helpful about having emojis for food allergies.

    • Keila V-der
      5/31/2019 - 03:10 p.m.

      I think it will help a lot of people to not to eat something if they have allergies.

  • IzzyS-dec
    5/09/2019 - 08:14 a.m.

    I think this is cool because this could save people’s life because if there is a little kid who can’t read yet then they just need to look a a emoji and then they will know if they can eat it it not. If someone can’t read in a different language then they just need to look at a emoji to see if they can eat it or not.

  • PaigeM-dec
    5/09/2019 - 08:14 a.m.

    So emojis are cool. They are super cool. They make life easier???????????

  • laneyA-dec
    5/09/2019 - 08:26 a.m.

    I think that it would be helpful for others. I think it would be helpful for others because if you and your friend was going to a pizza shop because the pizza was good and your friend has a food allergy to gluten and your friend asks you if the pizza is gluten free or not, you can send the no emoji which means that it's not gluten free or you can send the pizza and the thumbs up emoji to say it is gluten free. This is why I think it is helpful for the emojis.

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