Although only 0.6% of people have a peanut allergy, the threat of accidental peanut consumption is a huge concern for many families. Eating at restaurants or at a friend’s house can quickly turn problematic if an allergic reaction should occur. But now, there are apps and devices that can provide valuable knowledge and peace of mind when eating on-the-go.
Nima, a tech company known for its handheld gluten detector, has now created a palm-sized peanut-sensing gadget. Users can test their food for the presence of peanuts by putting a tiny amount into the sensing capsule and powering up the device. A peanut icon will pop up if the legume (yes, peanuts are actually a legume) is detected, while a smile will appear is the sample contains less than 20 parts per million of peanut.
While some food scientists have questioned how accurate a device like this can be outside of a sterile lab, it’s an idea that holds promise for a lot of allergy sufferers. After all, testing your food before you consume it is much less painful than accidentally ingesting a peanut. Since the CDC reports that there are around 37.2 million injury-related ER visits each year in the U.S., it’s possible that a device like this could save a lot of emergency trips related to food allergies.
However, the technology doesn’t come cheap. The starter kit (which includes a 12-pack of test capsules and a sensor) is priced at $289. The one-time capsules alone cost $72 for a 12-pack. While you can join a membership program to get a discount, it’s still a steep price to pay. For some, it may be worth it. The device’s sensor is also Bluetooth-enabled, meaning that it can connect to an iOS or Android app that allows users to share results and rate restaurants and even packaged foods. The apps also allow you to search for food options in your area.
But Nima’s new device isn’t the only tech-savvy way to avoid eating a rogue peanut. One mom developed her own app after seeing her 14-year-old struggle with living a normal life due to her peanut allergy. The app, called Spokin, is a helpful resource that allows families impacted by peanut allergies to connect and recommend restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, summer camps, airlines, prepared food products, and more based on experiences. Families can warn others about ingredient changes in foods, and like other social media networks, you can follow accounts that make recommendations based on your child’s own allergies.
Susie Hultquist, the app creator, told Chicago’s WGN News, “Theres so much knowledge in the food allergy community, and we’re harnessing that.”
Whether you’d rather follow advice from another family or test out food yourself with a gadget, these new developments can keep an allergic reaction from occurring. That means that everyone can enjoy a meal or an indulgence without worrying about their personal health and safety — and that parents can expel a big sigh of relief.