Taxi creates food allergy community

Two Canadian sponsors, Guardian Angel Foods and Twinject Canada, are on board for the agency's new online and mobile service that lets people with food allergies exchange recipes and safe lists.

About a year ago, Rich Muhlstock, GM Taxi Content in New York, was hosting a dinner for friends who have children with severe food allergies. Neither of his own kids had allergies at the time, and he was new to the painstaking attention that has to be paid to ingredients. This is how the idea for Taxi’s Food Content Alerts, an online and mobile service that provides information and recipes to people with food allergies, came to fruition.

‘I found it extremely frustrating and difficult to figure out what to serve for dinner,’ Muhlstock says. ‘It got me thinking, because part of my role at Taxi is helping brands utilize technology better,’ he tells MiC. The site is essentially an information exchange, with community members putting their ‘safe’ foods into a database that others can peruse. Members can also customize their own profiles and subscribe to food safety alerts that are sent to their mobile phones. The website was created by Calgary-based Stem Limited, developed in partnership with Taxi Canada.

Three sponsors for were announced yesterday – Enjoy Life Foods, Twinject Canada and Montreal-based Guardian Angel Foods. The sponsors will each promote their involvement in the program in unique ways - Guardian Angel Foods for instance, is helping to moderate forums; Twinject, which makes epinephrine dispensers, will promote the site through the medical community and subscribers of their newsletter; while Enjoy Life Foods will do their part participating in allergy walks in the U.S.

Taxi is also slated to launch their own online campaign that will be ‘very targeted to sites that are in the allergy world,’ Muhlstock says, naming as an example. He says the Taxi team is able to cater to new sponsors. A sponsored listings page with allergy-free foods could put a brand’s cereal at the top of the cereals listing page, for example. Recipe sponsorship and partnerships with major grocery retailers are also in the works, he says. The site’s mobile page is accessible on any phone, but specific applications will be unrolling soon, he adds.

The allergy community (currently there are about 1,000 users of the site before any marketing promo) is tight-knit, with each person recommending a new food or program they like to about five of their friends according to focus group research, Muhlstock says. But the key consumer insight is not to tell them what’s ‘safe’ but to give them the information they need to make that decision.