Melbourne: In a world first, Australian food scientists have launched an iPhone application which they claim would allow shoppers make healthier choices while buying packaged foodstuff from the supermarket.

A team at the University of Sydney says that the iPhone's camera scans the barcode of packaged foods and instantly tells its owner the nutritional advice of the stuff via 'FoodSwitch' application, thus helping reduce high levels of fat, salt and sugar from their diets.

"FoodSwitch's three-step approach marries the latest technology with cutting edge research. Australians can now scan barcodes, see what's in a food, and switch to a healthier choice in an instant," said Bruce Neal, senior director at the university's George Institute for Global Health.

The application makes recommendations based on the nutritional value of more than 20,000 packaged food products found in Australian supermarkets, and is a product which took the scientists nearly three years to develop.

Heart disease, stroke and other diseases caused mostly by a poor diet are the biggest killers in Australia, and by simply switching to a healthier alternative, shoppers could be reducing risk of the illnesses.

The application will demystify nutritional labels and front of pack health claims, and give shoppers a true report of a product's fat, sugar and salt levels.

"Choosing a healthier diet has to be made easier, because good eating habits are one of the best and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. For long, Australians have grappled with confusing food labels. And with FoodSwitch there is no reason why this should continue," Neal said.

(Agencies)