We all know of medical devices you can carry to help stop an allergic reaction. But what if you could prevent one from happening in the first place?
Companies are developing allergy testing devices designed to test the food you eat or even the air you breathe to determine if allergens are present. Celiac sufferer Torrey Freeman says it happens all the time. She orders food she's told is gluten free but still ends up getting sick.
"Just going on someone's word is really scary," noted Freeman.
Now, whenever she eats out, she carries a device designed to test for gluten called a Nima Sensor.
"Having this sensor gives me that peace of mind when I test the food," added Freeman.
There are gluten testing kits on the market, too. If airborne allergens are more your concern, the Tzoa "Enviro-Tracker" measures air quality to help you avoid pollution. And there is a prototype of the Allergy Amulet that's slated to hit the market next year. You can wear it around your neck. It uses a disposable test strip to test for traces of peanuts, tree nuts, and dairy in food.
"Within a minute, it will tell the user if a presence or absence of the allergen is detected," explained Meg Nohe.
Nohe is the mother of a peanut allergic child. She helped develop the Allergy Amulet.
"When other people are preparing your food, you don't know what's on their hands, you don't know what countertop it's touched or you can't read the labels," said Nohe. "So, that's really where the Allergy Amulet is going to be a huge benefit."
The co-founder of the Food Allergy Science Initiative says she sees these devices as promising but would like to see "real validation studies" to prove their efficacy.
Both the Nima Sensor and the Allergy Amulet tell us third-party testing is in the works. The allergy group also cautions about "cross-contamination" issues and possible "human error".
Meg agrees a tester is only one tool in the safety toolbelt.
"It's important for users to think of it as a supplement and not a substitute to what I would say are the standard precautionary measures," explained Nohe.
Torrey is careful but loves her sensor.
"To save me from being sick when I'm out with my children or my family and traveling is such a wonderful thing," said Torrey.
The sensors we looked at range in cost from a hundred to nearly three hundred dollars and some require test strips, sold separately.
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