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J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Mar;106(3):443-5.

A universal product code scanner is a feasible method of measuring household food inventory and food use patterns in low-income families.

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Travis Air Force Base, CA 94535-1800, USA.


This study assesses the feasibility of using a Universal Product Code (UPC) scanner to record the home food inventory of limited-resource families. Feasibility was based on UPC scanner accuracy, time involved, and researcher/study participant feedback. Program staff members completed a traditional line-item inventory and UPC scan of 5,920 food items during 51 separate visits to the homes of 32 families. Foods reported from the UPC scanner were compared with the manual line-item food inventory. The UPC scanner report had an accuracy of 95.6% (5,661/5,920). Further, the UPC scanning technique offered a 31.8% time savings over the traditional line-item inventory approach. The UPC scanner was easy to use and participants reported that scanning food items was non-intrusive. A UPC scanner is a feasible method of recording the home food inventory, and the accuracy and simplicity of this approach can provide useful information on foods available for consumption within a home.

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