Peanut allergy is one of the most common- and deadly- allergies in the world. Although ingredients are usually written on the back of food packaging nowadays, what happens if you don’t read the language? And more than that, what if you want to eat street food? Happily, there’s now a solution.
Founded in 2013, Nima is a San Francisco-based company that has developed a hand-held sensor that can detect peanuts in food and liquid samples. After inserting a pea-size portion of food or liquid in a single-use test tube, it takes just three minutes to fully analyse it for peanut proteins. If the sample contains peanuts, a legume icon lights up. If it’s peanut-free, there’s a smiley face instead.
And to save time on testing, the company is also building a database of restaurant reviews alongside the results taken by its sensors to share with its community. Recording these on its app whenever connected via bluetooth, Nima uses this as a way to regularly update its sensor’s detecting algorithm as well.
Does it Work?
It seems so, yes. Partially funded by the National Institutes of Health and having undergone hundreds of food tests, the sensor is able to detect peanuts at 20 parts per million. This makes it 99% accurate.
According to Stephanie L, one of the sensor’s Beta testers, “Meeting the Nima Peanut Sensor for the first time was unimaginable. It was fast, easy and convenient to use. This little sensor will now be a big part of our tool box in addition to all the precautions we currently take to keep my daughters and me safe.”
Where to Get it
Currently, Nima’s peanut sensor alongside a twelve-pack of testing capsules, a charger and a carrying case, are only available to pre-order in the US and Canada at a promotional price of $229. Later on in the year though, they’ll be more widely available at $289 each.
Aside from making their products more widespread and available further afield, Nima currently has a waiting list to develop sensors for other common allergens including soy, tree nuts, dairy, shellfish and eggs.
And interestingly enough, according to Brian Frank, one of the company’s advisors in 2016, the same technology may be used to detect pathogens too.
To conclude, Nima’s handheld peanut sensor can detect peanut proteins in food and drink at a 99% accuracy. Valuable to people suffering from the allergy, the company aims to use their technology to detect other allergens as well in coming years.