Criticism of Flemish government’s food app which cost €550,000
Thursday, 06 February 2020
The Flemish government has come in for criticism over a smartphone app and website aimed at encouraging healthy eating, after it was revealed the developers were paid €550,000 for the application.
The cost was revealed by Flemish health minister Wouter Beke (CD&V) in response to a question in the public health committee from Maurits Vande Reyde (Open VLD) who described the deal as “too crazy for words”.
“From our research and a poll, it appears that the Flemish people have a need for good information about healthy and affordable eating,” Beke replied.
The app “Zeker Gezond” (Healthy For Sure) was launched last week, and has so far been downloaded 37,000 times. It is free, and available only in Dutch from the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living. The page on the Play Store reads, “Be inspired by more than 1,000 recipes based on the food triangle: tasty, simple and with a health guarantee. Put together your own weekly menu, make a shopping list and get customized suggestions via your personal profile.”
It has all of the typical features of an app of its sort: a personal profile to offer suggestions, a calendar and shopping list function, recipes and a week menu.
Questioning the minister, Vande Reyde asked if such a project really belonged to the core tasks of the government. Beke replied that a poll of 500 people had found the guidelines offered by the Institute were “too theoretical”. People needed advice and support in order to convert the guidelines of the food triangle into practice, he said.
“There’s no shortage of recipes around,” Beke admitted. “But a trustworthy, independent source of recipes in the form of an app and a web platform have been missing until now.”
The recipes were supplied by various Flemish organisations to be gathered together in the app.
The minister did admit that the government had no need to intervene in every aspect of life. “But if we’re talking about health, healthy eating and prevention, then I think that this certainly has its place”.
Committee members from Groen and N-VA joined with Vande Reyde in questioning whether the government did not have more important matters to spend money on.