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 who submitted a proposal. He proposed to add a range of new icons to the standard emoji library. It 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.”

Emojis are universal because they are chosen and developed by the Unicode Consortium. It is a non-profit corporation that oversees, develops and maintains how text is represented. This is in regards to all software products and standards. That's according to Alex Swerdloff writing 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. This is true 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. They can communicate whether a product is made with common allergens. But as Komatsu’s proposal argues, many of the most common food allergens are missing or poorly represented by the current emoji library. Examples of these allergens include peanuts, soy and milk. 

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. The emojis could be 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. 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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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 (19)
  • DarienD-aer
    8/07/2019 - 09:55 p.m.

    I think what would be most helpful about having emojis for food allergies is the fact that it allows people to be able to understand the ingredients and recognize it before eating it which could possibly save and help a lot of people with allergies from certain ingredients or types of foods. It is very effective from reading the text and I'm sure a lot of people would enjoy this feature.

  • Nathanz-aer
    8/08/2019 - 06:53 p.m.

    The most helpful thing about having emoji for food allergies is that the emojis can help to prevent ANYONE with allergies to consume something they're allergic to. Emojis can be used to show that there is an ingredient in the food item that can potentially cause an allergic reaction. Take peanuts as an example, if a product contains peanuts, a peanut emoji could be displayed to help people who don't understand the item's manufacture language that there is peanut content in the food. Therefore, having emojis as a symbol for food allergies is an universal way of informing the consumer.

  • jazlynr-rit1
    8/26/2019 - 05:00 p.m.

    I think if you knew what emojis go with what allergies, it would be helpful cause you would know what people were talking about. If you didn't know what emoji went with what allergies, i think there is no point in that the emojis help with the allergies. I think the most helpful would be when you eat with someone with an allergies and they told you what emoji and stuff it would be helpful so you knew not to that food.

  • jeniahl-rit
    8/26/2019 - 05:51 p.m.

    I love to use Emojis alot so this was very informational to read.

  • ivyd-rit
    8/26/2019 - 05:57 p.m.

    i think it is really smart because if you put emojis on it they can tell if it has peanuts in it or if your allergies have any other things in it!

  • aidenw-rit2
    8/27/2019 - 04:50 p.m.

    So if someone had food allergies the emojis could help them on what type of food allergies they have. Also lots of people us emojis so it is a convenient way to show people if you have food allergies.

  • jeth-rit
    8/27/2019 - 05:16 p.m.

    I find it use full and weird at the same time.

  • ryang-rit
    8/28/2019 - 04:20 p.m.

    It would tell what some people would be allergic to. It would also be a better way of responding to people who have allergies. and another thing is that people would be more a ware of what kind of food they should be making or what to bring to some sort of event.

  • EricaG-sto
    9/17/2019 - 01:04 p.m.

    I think that having emojis for food allergies is smart because If someone is allergic to something they could print an emoji on it instead or writing becuase some people don't know how to read and they could easily read an emoji.

  • MageB-sto
    9/17/2019 - 01:10 p.m.

    Emoji's help people with food allergies? That's interesting. They help people based on which allergy they have? Wow, i guess so.

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