Emoji characters for food allergens

Marcel Schneider charupdate at orange.fr
Mon Aug 3 09:10:12 CDT 2015

On 03 Aug 2015, at 10:39:13, Mark Davis ☕️  wrote:

> BTW, the UTC declined to accept the allergen emoji set proposal. While some of the food items may be acceptable and the emoji subcommittee could re-propose them, there are principled problems with trying to deal with allergens as a set of emoji. So that is off the table.

Since food emoji encoding goes on then, there are a few points to flash back on last week, sorry to be late.

On 26 Jul 2015, at 05:45, William_J_G Overington  wrote:

> I suggest that, in view of the importance of precision in conveying information about food allergens, that the emoji characters for food allergens should be separate characters from other emoji characters. That is, encoded in a separate quite distinct block of code points far away in the character map from other emoji characters, with no dual meanings for any of the characters: a character for a food allergen should be quite separate and distinct from a character for any other meaning.

I fear that discouraging the use of food pictographs, may they represent allergen containing food or not, in current messages and with any desirable meaning could prevent users from becoming familiar with. Browsing the Charts I cannot see another place for food related symbols than the last Supplemental Symbols and Picrographs 1F900 block. This is already far away from the Emoticons block U+1F600. The meaning, as often in Unicode, is context-determined. Finding an allergen pictograph on a food package with a convenient markup would then have added an unambiguous sense. I'll try to explain a bit later why emojis may be useful.

> I opine that having two separate meanings for the same character, one meaning as an everyday jolly good fun meaning in a text message and one meaning as a specialist food allergen meaning could be a source of confusion. Far better to encode a separate code block with separate characters right from the start than risk needless and perhaps medically dangerous confusion in the future.

Unicode would have encoded the new allergen pictographs under a Food Allergens subhead, ensuring thus the primary meaning. Furthermore, an everyday use will primarily be less obvious in most of the cases, as food allergens are preferrably depicted as ingredients, while typical everyday food emojis like the fast food shown elsewhere in this thread show mostly prepared food. For example, U+1F35A �� BOWL OF RICE, while gluten-free, will rather have a dish meaning, whereas 1F33E �� EAR OF RICE may refer more precisely to the ingredient, and a future EAR OF WHEAT will symbolize gluten-containing cereals, as it does already in food labelling. 

BTW I find it urgent to encode all these ears, as WHEAT, BUCKWHEAT (part of the proposal), and so on, because actually only *two* kinds of cereals have their ear in Unicode: 1F33D �� EAR OF MAIZE, and 1F33E �� EAR OF RICE.

> I suggest that for each allergen that there be two characters.
> The glyph for the first character of the pair goes from baseline to ascender.
> The glyph for the second character of the pair is a copy of the glyph for the first character of the pair augmented with a thick red line from lower left descender to higher right a little above the base line, the thick red line perhaps being at about thirty degrees from the horizontal. Thus the thick red line would go over the allergen part of the glyph yet just by clipping it a bit so that clarity is maintained.
> The glyphs are thus for the presence of the allergen and the absence of the allergen respectively.

Sorry, I donʼt believe that this would have been agreed, because package design is done in high-end software as QuarkXPress, InDesign, PagePro, so it would be easy to add some expressive and unambiguous markup to a unique symbol. IMHO it might be nice to have something surrounding, like a circle for the presence and a (barred) square for the absence, or conversely.

About colors, the absence of an allergen from a given food being good news for patients, we could opt for some green tone, while by contrast the red color conveys rather a warning and might thus be suitable for its presence. With analogy to road symbols, a red circle could perhaps best express this case, as allergic consumers must avoid the product. I thought about a triangle, but this has an inner field too small for the symbol while it takes too much place (a triangle being bulkier than square and circle). If the industry agrees, a triangle for presence may be adopted.

> It is typical in the United Kingdom to label food packets not only with an ingredients list but also with a list of allergens in the food and also with a list of allergens not in the food.
> For example, a particular food may contain soya yet not gluten.
> Thus I opine that two characters are needed for each allergen.

Correspondingly, French legislation requires that the allergens be marked up with bold font style in the ingredients list, and this be followed by a list of allergens risking contamination due to their use in the workshop. The meaning of the bold markup must be explained (like “In bold: information intended for allergic persons”). The United Kingdom solution is more explicit. The problem is how to transpose this into a CJK context, and thatʼs where the proposed pictographs will become useful.

> I have deliberately avoided a total strike through at fourty-five degrees as I opine that that could lead to problems distinguishing clearly the glyph for the absence of one allergen from the glyph for the absence of another allergen.

About how to place the slash or backslash, I agree with William that it must not hide the symbol. To achieve this, the allergen pictograph might also be raised to the foreground, being thus fully viewable, while in this case the slash must be very thick and can be continued in outline before the pictograph. Its orientation (upper left - lower right, vs lower left - upper right) may be a matter of personal preference but from heraldics, from road symbols and from Unicode (U+20E0) the backslash could be slightly more current.

[I already answered to some other point and will mention others in next replies.]

Thank you for having made the Mailing List aware of this proposal and for supporting it. I'm sad that it will be essentially removed.

All the best,

Marcel Schneider

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