Device helps give peace of mind to those with food allergies

Courtesy of CBS Newspath

NEW YORK — Jolene Warren was diagnosed with Celiac disease about a year ago.

“I had severe anemia and my red blood count was terrible, and I had no oxygen going into my blood.”

Celiac is an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye. It’s commonly controlled through a strict diet.

“Food was my social activity and since then I eat as much as I can at home because that’s my safe spot,” she said.

But now a pocket-size gluten detector is helping her to eat out more and worry less.

The device from Nima Labs scans a sample of food placed in a disposable capsule and then alerts you when your allergy is detected. A smile shows its safe – a wheat icon means gluten was detected.

Nima researchers are now creating devices for other common food allergies.

“We’re developing a test for peanuts, for dairy, for tree nut – eventually anything you care about, we wanna give you that instant information in the palm of your hand,” said CEO Shireen Yates.

Still, Nima admitted the test is not a 100-percent guarantee. While the tested sample may be safe that doesn’t mean the entire meal is gluten free.

Dietitian Emily Luxford said while the technology maybe helpful, there are concerns users may become too dependent on the device itself.

“And so they don’t know how to use the proper tools of asking questions, communicating with restaurants or reading labels and then they feel like they can’t actually make a choice without a device.”

Warren said she uses her detector at least two to four times a week.

“I don’t go anywhere without my tester to make sure that I’m safe.”

It’s just an added layer of security helping her cope with her condition.