Scanning items at the store to see if they are gluten free is really attractive. When first starting to eat gluten-free or to try to find something for a gluten-free friend or family member, this is an easy way to find the answers without learning all the terms and places gluten might hide.
Gluten Scan found information on a scanned product 57.89% of the time. 66.66% of the time in our testing, it agreed with the manufacturers if a product was gluten free. Many problematic items contained wheat flour that was marked as gluten free in the app.
We reviewed a total of 6 apps that scan barcodes and check for gluten in the products. If you would like to see them all compared and see which app might be best for you, click here to go to that article. Below you will find detailed information on the app Gluten Scan.
Does Gluten Scan Detect Gluten?
As we can tell from the name, the app Gluten Scan was designed to scan barcodes on grocery items and detect if they are safe for those who need to avoid gluten.
We scanned a total of 57 items, evenly spread out between gluten free, gluten, and questionable items to see if the apps could accurately say if they contained gluten.
Accuracy: Out of 33 items that it could scan, it agreed with the manufacturer 22 times or 66.66% of the time.
Database: The description on the Play Store does not give the size of their database. They only launched this app in November of 2020, less than a year before writing this review. Of the 57 items we scanned, it found 33, or 57.89% of all items scanned.
User Experience: I liked how the items are easily noted on my list as either gluten free in green or gluten in orange. However, when Gluten Scan scanned an item in, it took a very long time to bring up the information for the item. In addition to this, there were two items that it scanned and came up with the information for and the correct picture. However, the name of the item was incorrect.
How Accurate Is Gluten Scan?
I found some major problems in the area of accuracy with Gluten Scan.
Overall, Gluten Scan agreed with the manufacturers 66.66% of the time.
When they disagreed, though, there were some major problems: if someone believed what the app said, it could make someone very ill.
Nature Valley Granola Bars were marked as Gluten Free when they do not use gluten free oats, and the manufacturer has a separate line of gluten free items. These should be noted as “may contain” or “contains.”
Mission Flour Tortillas were marked as Gluten Free when their first ingredient is wheat flour.
Pringles were marked as Gluten Free when they contain wheat flour.
Rice Krispie Treats were marked as Gluten Free when they have malt flavoring and are not safe for consumption by gluten-intolerant or Celiacs.
Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Cereal is marked as Gluten Free when it contains malt flavoring.
Bugles are marked as Gluten Free when they contain wheat flour.
Quaker Instant Oatmeal is marked as Gluten Free when they are not made with purity protocol oats.
I saved the most egregious for last: Franz Keto White Bread is marked as gluten free when it contains wheat gluten, wheat starch, and wheat flour as ingredients. This item has more gluten than most bread. It is keto because of the high amount of fiber, so the net carbohydrates are lower. For more information about gluten free vs keto, check out this article.
In all, I would not say that anyone can trust this app for its accuracy.
Does Gluten Scan Have A Large Database Of Items?
Unlike some other apps, Gluten Scan doesn’t list how many items are in their database. Since it only came out approximately 9 months before I wrote this article, we can assume it is lower than the apps that have been out for 8 years.
We scanned 57 items with 6 different gluten scanning apps. Gluten Scan found 57.89% of the items scanned. There are absolutely holes in the app that need to be filled to get a good database of items to pull from.
I am giving them a pass on this since they are so new and their database is growing.
All of the gluten scanner apps use crowdsourcing to pull their data. This means that they rely on their users to add new items and correct the data. This app obviously is still new and needs time to build that.
What Is The User Experience For Gluten Scan?
If we set aside the small database and inaccuracy for a second, we can still find some places to improve the user experience.
There is no required email to log in with to use the app, which is a positive.
However, after scanning an item, it took an unusually long time to pull up the item.
I don’t mean to belabor this point, but it took so long to pull up the information that I almost shut down and restarted the app because I thought it had frozen. I even started to rescan a couple of items, thinking it errored out before pulling the data up.
When you scan an item, and the scanner picks up the barcode, the scanning box goes away and leaves you the last item scanned screen until the new information is pulled up. I can see this being a huge problem if you were in the grocery store with kids and you kept having to wait for this to populate.
Other than the slow loading, though, the user interface was good. It easily pulled up a list of items you had scanned to look over them later. It shows green or orange for gluten free or gluten, depending on what was scanned in. This makes it easy to read and to figure out what the app thinks is gluten free.
What Are Some Problems With Gluten Scan?
While there are some smaller issues, the most important issue right now is inaccuracy. It is completely inappropriate to have an app out there that is pulling up items marked as containing wheat by the manufacturers and calling them gluten free.
For user experience, some internal mechanisms in the implementation need to be addressed for a more seamless experience.
Should I Use Gluten Scan?
I’m going to shock some of you with this recommendation here, but I recommend downloading this app.
The reasoning behind it is important. This is a new app, and while there are some huge apparent flaws, it would be a great app if they had enough data behind everything.
On the Play Store, the owner responds to reviews in ways that make it obvious he is the one coding and running the app. I’m all for supporting the small guy and helping them out.
The caveat is that you should download another app and learn how to tell if something is gluten free without an app. If you would like to see the other reviews on gluten scanning apps, check out this article comparing them all side by side.