What’s in Your Shopping Cart? New Redify App Identifies Chemicals of Health Concern in Everyday Products
- The average woman consumes over 155 synthetic chemical ingredients a day.
- Many scientific studies have shown that prolonged exposure to some of these chemicals can increase the risk of serious long-term illnesses and developmental defects in children
As consumers, we often trawl the aisles of supermarkets, bundling products indiscriminately into our shopping carts, feeling confident in the assumption that they must have been tested and passed safe for human consumption. This is particularly true for baby and children’s products, which, one would justifiably assume, would have even more stringent controls on manufacturers. The shocking truth is, over 95% of the 80,000 chemicals used today in consumer products have never been tested for health and safety but are generally assumed to be safe. The FDA only requires product ingredient labeling – but not safety testing. This regulatory loophole has allowed manufacturers to formulate their products with chemicals of undetermined health consequences.
Florida-based start-up Redify calls these Chemicals of Health Concern™ (CHCs) – man-made chemicals including a group known collectively as endocrine disrupters that have been scientifically linked with a number of human diseases and conditions including various types of cancer, infertility, hormonal imbalances, fetal developmental defects, childhood obesity, autism, learning deficits, immune deficiency, hyper allergic responses, and many more. According to Professor Victor Okoh, a research scientist specializing in chemical exposures and disease outcomes: “Alarmingly, CHCs can be found in many everyday products – including food, medicines, baby products, toys, cosmetics, household goods and garden products. Chances are you unwittingly consumed several this morning, but consumers are generally oblivious to their health risks.”
Victor and his Redify co-founder Dr. Karina Vilalba, who holds a doctorate in gene-environment interaction and disease prevention, have spent the last 5 years compiling a database of more than 2,000 scientifically verified CHCs that are being used in consumer products worldwide. They developed the Redify app to educate and empower consumers to make informed choices about what they buy, and lobby manufacturers to make their product formulations less harmful.
Using the Redify mobile application, consumers can easily identify products containing CHCs simply by scanning the barcode. The app displays alternative, less harmful products that do not contain CHCs to the health-conscious consumer at the point of purchase.
According to Dr. Villalba, “Given the evidence-based risk of CHCs on pre- and postnatal development in particular, when organ and neural systems are forming, we are looking to get Redify into the hands of women trying to get pregnant and pregnant women, and mothers with infant children through adolescents. We are also targeting the provider community, including public health workers and nutritionists, to help drive awareness and usage of our app. It is vital that we as health-conscious consumers are made aware of CHCs that we may be unwittingly consuming or giving to our children.”
Uniquely, the app includes an “Advocacy” button that will automatically send an email to the product manufacturer to lobby them to remove CHCs in their product formulations. “This really puts the power in the hands of the consumer to put pressure on manufacturers to make safer products,” commented Leyan Phillips, a co-founder who developed the Redify brand.
In a beta version of the app that was tested among 400 users, 93% said it was “very helpful” to know about CHCs in products. 90% said they would be more likely to purchase alternative less harmful products displayed in the app, while 94% said they would recommend Redify to their friends.
Redify won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in 2018 and came top of the Miami Herald People’s Choice Award, polling twice as many votes as their nearest competitor. According to Professor Okoh, “We have started by focusing on baby and children’s products, but the goal is to extend Redify’s product database to encompass all consumer products worldwide.”<br><p>
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