The ShopWell app has many different functionalities, but does it work to detect when gluten is in an item? We tested 6 similar apps to find out what was the best one to scan for gluten. We looked at accuracy, database, and user experience.
ShopWell can detect gluten. It has two different settings: one for wheat and one for gluten. When scanning, ShopWell found items 82.46% of the time. They agreed with the manufacturers on if an item had gluten 91.49% of the time. The items they disagreed on largely have disagreements in the gluten free community.
We conducted a study where we scanned 57 items to check for the size of the database, accuracy, and user experience. If you want to check out how ShopWell compared to the other 5 apps we tested, click here to go there now. Below you will find detailed information on the ShopWell App as a gluten scanner.
Does ShopWell Work For Gluten Intolerant And Celiac People?
ShopWell does have detections for both wheat and gluten. When you download and start the app, you need to select your own personal profile of allergens. To do this, they do require a sign-in.
You can select ingredients as well as conditions. There is one for gluten intolerance, but not for Celiac Disease. This may be a minor distinction, but one to note. If you have Celiac Disease, you will want to choose the gluten intolerance option to check for gluten.
Accuracy: ShopWell and the manufacturer agreed whether an item was gluten free or not 91.49% of the time if the item came up on the app.
Database: They claim to have a database of over 400,000 items. In our testing of 57 popular brands and items, ShopWell had data on the scanned item 82.46% of the time.
User Experience: ShopWell was fairly easy to use and scan. However, the app only shows gluten or wheat in the problematic areas and never in the positive areas. It will flag items as okay match or weak match if they are unhealthy items, even gluten free.
I did put a few testing terms in to check what it would come up with. Overall, I had a positive experience using the app.
How Accurate is ShopWell for Gluten Detection?
When setting up this experiment, we wanted to have criteria to compare all 6 apps against each other. We scanned the same 57 items with each app to see how they would respond. We wanted to get ones that we knew were problematic, labeled gluten free, and questionable ones. These were spread roughly evenly across the 57 items.
ShopWell was able to agree with the manufacturer 91.49% of the time. There were 4 instances in which they did not agree. And 3/4 of these instances, I personally can’t entirely agree with the manufacturer either.
Nature Valley Granola Bars and Cheerios are marked as gluten free or not containing gluten ingredients for both of these. However, Nature Valley has a line of gluten free items, and whether Cheerios is gluten free has been heatedly debated in many online forums.
Going on the safe side and saying these items are not safe is how I would prefer to see an app take this.
For Johnny’s Seasoning Salt, they said it contained no gluten ingredients, but the manufacturer says there is a possibility of wheat contamination on the label. Technically, ShopWell is correct as there are no gluten ingredients. But because there was a warning about cross-contamination, it shouldn’t have had a green light. This is a small difference, though.
The last one is one they were just flat-out wrong on. They said that Malt-O-Meal Crispy Rice contains gluten. While the name brand Rice Krispies does contain gluten (which they caught), this off-brand is gluten free. Even despite the brand name containing the word malt.
However, I’ll give them that they erred on the side of caution in almost every instance. The only exception was the contamination warning on the seasoning salt. Knowing that those are the errors, I’d put them at almost 100% on the accuracy of their results.
Does ShopWell Have A Large Database Of Items?
The description for ShopWell in the Play Store says they have a database of over 400,000 items.
In our testing, they found the scanned item 82.46% of the time. ShopWell found 47 out of a possible 57 items with information.
We tried to scan name brands and popular items rather than store brands or less known items to get the best possible results for our study. These were broken up into 22 items that were not obvious if they were gluten free, 18 labeled gluten free, and 18 contained wheat.
ShopWell could not bring up information for Zoi Greek Yogurt, Wheat Thins, Gluten Free Oreos, Oak Milk, C&H Dark Brown Sugar, Kix, Rice Krispies, Franz Keto White Bread, Cheddar Folios Cheese Wraps, and Bar M Applewood Smoked Sausage with Bacon.
I suspect that ShopWell and The Gluten Scanner share some partial database information because these items are very similar to what The Gluten Scanner was unable to scan. However, this could be biased as I did scan them right after each other every time I scanned an item with all 6 apps.
How Is the User Experience Of The ShopWell App?
I really liked how the ShopWell app worked. I didn’t particularly appreciate that I had to put my information in to get access to saving my list of items, but I also haven’t gotten a lot of emails, unlike other apps I tested.
There were essentially four designations in ShopWell that I got: good match, okay match, weak match, and avoid. ShopWell saved the “avoid!” designation for anything with gluten or wheat. The “okay match” and “weak match” had other items I’d liked to test how the app worked.
None of the scanned items came up with a rating higher than 80, which were raw onions in the produce section. Only two items were in the “good match” category, which shows up as green, even when they were gluten free.
The feature I had the most frustration with was it didn’t note when something did not contain gluten, only when it did contain it. ShopWell noted designations such as “low fat” with a green checkmark, but I did not see a “gluten free” designation on that side for any items.
The app does not say whether an item is gluten free but only whether an item has a gluten ingredient.
What Are The Major Problems Of The ShopWell App For Gluten Scanning?
All of these apps that scan for gluten use crowdsourcing to get their data. This means that you will not have data any better than going to a group of people on social media, asking their opinions, and taking the average.
Besides this integral issue, I had difficulty with not designating something as “gluten free”. While I found that they were rather accurate overall, this is not an app to confirm that something is gluten free. The only thing this app does is read the label and note if it contains gluten or wheat.
Should You Use ShopWell As A Gluten Scanning App?
If the only thing you need to check for on ingredient labels is gluten, this may not be the best app for you. They only show if it does contain gluten. There are no notifications for possible cross-contamination or other issues related to gluten and wheat.
If you need to check for multiple allergies or intolerances, this might be something that would be worth your while. It allows you to note multiple things to look for in the ingredient list and things such as low fat or low sugar.
If you want to check out the entire experiment we ran and see which of the 6 apps would be the best for you, check out this post we did comparing all of them.