Emoji characters for food allergens

Nathan Sharfi mailinglists at ngalt.com
Mon Aug 3 03:49:40 CDT 2015

> On Jul 29, 2015, at 7:27 AM, Andrew West <andrewcwest at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 29 July 2015 at 14:42, William_J_G Overington
> <wjgo_10009 at btinternet.com> wrote:
>> For example, one such character could be used to be placed before a list of
>> emoji characters for food allergens to indicate that that a list of dietary
>> need follows.
>> For example,
>> My dietary need is no gluten no dairy no egg
>> There could be a way to indicate the following.
>> My diet can include soya
> There already is, you can write "My diet can include soya".
> If you are likely to swell up and die if you eat a peanut (for
> example), you will not want to trust your life to an emoji picture of
> a peanut which could be mistaken for something else or rendered as a
> square box for the recipient.  There may be a case to be made for
> encoding symbols for food allergens for labelling purposes, but there
> is no case for encoding such symbols as a form of symbolic language
> for communication of dietary requirements.
> Andrew

I've recently tried to closely follow the care tags on my clothes instead of dumping most of them in the cold/cold batch. When I look at the care tags, I squint at the hieroglyphs[1] for five seconds, give up, and then start looking for instructions written in English — that is, useful instructions.

I'd imagine a chef trying to 'read' dietary-needs symbols would be similarly trying, only with dire consequences for getting it wrong.

I can see why someone might want to communicate their allergies in a language-agnostic manner while traveling abroad, but for that to work, everyone would need to memorize a bunch of pictographs on the off chance that a foreign traveller is incapable of conveying his or her allergies in a mutually understood spoken/written language. This seems like a worse strategy than carrying around a card that says "I can't have nuts or eggs".

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laundry_symbol

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