The Vege-Check scanners use reflection spectroscopy to measure carotenoid levels present in the skin. Carotenoids include lycopene, the compound responsible for the red colour in tomatoes, and beta-carotene, the orange pigment found in carrots. To receive a reading, customers place their palm on the scanner for 30 seconds. It then gives them a printout with a score between one and 12. A score between seven and eight indicates a healthy intake of fruit and vegetables, quantified in Japan as at least 350g per day.
While the scanner’s approach doesn’t yield as accurate a result as a blood test, it’s hoped that its non-invasive nature will prompt repeat use in-store, helping shoppers to track and alter their eating habits over time.
This is part of a wider push by some supermarket chains globally to nudge consumers towards healthier food choices, with tactics ranging from placing better-for-you foods in more convenient spots in-store (see Woolworths in Australia) to avoiding volume deals on unhealthy foodstuffs (see British supermarket Tesco).