What if the Yuka app displayed the manufacturer’s response in the event of a bad rating?

A Senate briefing report suggests several ways to improve product rating apps, like Yuka. Among them, allowing a manufacturer to post its observations at a low rating.

Like many French people, perhaps you now do your shopping with your smartphone in hand, to scan barcodes and find out what a particular product contains. Yuka is certainly the best-known application in the sector: it evaluates a food or a cosmetic product with a score out of 100 and an explicit color code.

These tools are very common today in the food industry and in the field of beauty. Sometimes questioned about their accuracy and their impartiality, but also denounced by the manufacturers whose products are examined, these tools are nonetheless emulated. Initiatives are devised for chemical products and for the ecological impact.

More and more people shop by scanning their products. // Source: Yuka

These developments are not viewed unfavorably by the legislator. But this sector deserves better supervision of rating apps, with the establishment of good practices to avoid possible mistakes. This is in any case the meaning of the proposals formulated by the Senate’s Economic Affairs Committee.

Allowing a manufacturer to respond to a bad rating

In an information report shared on June 29, the commission pleads for a dozen measures. And among them is the need to allow an industrialist who disagrees with the note displayed on Yuka or any other application to include his response, so that customers can also know his observations.

Rating apps have helped make information more concise and therefore more readable “, admit the senators who wrote this report. That being so, it is necessary to make their operation more transparent “. Other indications could also be required on each sheet, not far from the note, such as the labels received by the product.

Because the impact of an application like Yuka on the purchase decision is immense. ” 92% of Yuka users would rest the product when it gets a bad rating “, suggests the report. Therefore, the operation, the information displayed and the scientific bases must be impeccable. Understood: there are industrial, economic and employment issues that can come into play.

yuka cosmetics application
Some products have good ratings, others are considered mediocre or even bad. // Source: Yuka (cropped image)

Labels, scientific basis, structuring of the note…

In addition to the integration of a tab in which the manufacturer could provide its response in the event of a disputed note, the report advances several other avenues:

  • indicate all the public labels available to the product: organic farming (AB), Label Rouge, protected designation of origin (PDO), controlled designation of origin (AOC), etc. ;
  • inform the user via a notification when a formerly scanned product has seen its rating change following a change in its composition;
  • present a rating for each aspect of a product, rather than a single rating, as this risks blindly aggregating heterogeneous aspects;
  • explain the ins and outs of the scientific debate on a substance that is questioned, but authorized, rather than issuing a negative assessment directly;
  • create a public certification of these apps, in order to certify the scientific relevance of their evaluation criteria and their weighting, as well as the reliability of the databases used;

The report ensures that it is not a question of preventing these applications from existing, but of preventing failures. It is an indispensable condition for a harmonious and peaceful development between these digital tools and the industries involved, say the senators. It remains to be seen what follow-up the public authorities and the legislator will give to these recommendations.

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