Worried about food allergies every time you eat out? This device can detect 5 common food allergens and keep you out of the emergency room.
Going to a restaurant can signify an extreme act of trust for anyone with a severe food allergy. Hidden ingredients, mislabeling and cross-contamination mean that even if you’re trying to avoid certain foods, they could pop up at any moment by surprise. The result for many can be a bad rash or a trip to the emergency room, depending on how severe the reaction is.
A new device developed by researchers from the American Chemical Society is putting an end to this. It’s a portable allergen-detection system called integrated exogenous antigen testing, or iEAT. It only costs $40, and consists of an electronic keychain reader that senses allergens in your food. Once you extract a bit of food to test it, the results are communicated to your smartphone.
The device, which is in the prototype phase, can detect wheat, peanuts, hazelnuts, milk and egg whites present in small amounts. It’s said to be able to detect levels even lower than the gold standard laboratory assay, in less than 10 minutes.
Researchers say this keychain detector could be expanded to check for additional compounds, including other allergens and non-food contaminants such as pesticides.
No word on when the device will hit the market for regular consumers, but the sooner the better.
Photo credits: American Chemical Society