Food Allergies/Intolerances and the Role of Technology

It’s a pretty cool time to be alive tech-wise. With the advent of technologies such as smart phones, cloud-based storage platforms and 3D printing we can stay connected, work smarter and live healthier. So it’s no surprise to me that food allergies would get a chance to play in this sandbox so to speak.

Over the past few months I’ve been introduced to two companies that are poised to launch game changing devices in the food allergy and intolerance realm. Both of these sensor-based devices are designed to detect trace amounts of food allergies/intolerances.

Here’s an overview:

Nima sensor, 6SensorLabs

6SensorLabs Nima sensor is designed to detect traces of gluten for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

After a sample of food is dropped into the well of the device, a proprietary antibody mines it for traces of gluten over 20 ppm. For reference in order for a food to be considered gluten free, FDA law requires it to be naturally gluten free or contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. If gluten is detected, a frowning face lights up; if not, a smile appears. There’s also a companion app that connects you with other users.

Nima was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2015. The Nima sensor is available for pre-order now, and is slated to launch in the U.S. around mid-2016. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with 6SensorLabs VP of Marketing recently. She said that once the device is launched, their plan is to role out sensors that test for food allergies to milk and peanut (this peanut allergy mom’s dream)!

Find more information at their website here.

Allergy Amulet

The Allergy Amulet is what they’re calling a “point of consumption” food allergen detection device. It’s a wearable device, in the form of a necklace or bracelet.

Here’s how it works: the wearable (which is actually very stylish) conceals a detachable device where the user can insert a disposable test strip. Once they have probed their food several times, the device will tell them within a minute whether the allergen is present.

The Allergy Amulet is slated to launch in 2018, with the first test strips detecting peanut protein (another win for this peanut allergy mom)! Approximately six months later their hope is to add egg and milk.

Find more information at their website here.

Final thoughts:

While these devices are a game changer for the food allergy and intolerance community, it’s important to keep in mind they are not a replacement for our everyday diligence. It will still remain equally as important to read labels and inform servers/wait staff of your allergens or intolerances.

I look forward to watching technology evolve within the food allergy community, and hope to be one of the first people to add this supplemental layer of protection to our routine. And if it helps us feel a bit more comfortable eating out socially, then that’s icing on the nut free cake:) 

Until next time,