Photo: Nima Peanut Sensor
When your child is diagnosed with a peanut allergy, life changes in an instant. You become an expert in reading food labels, using an Epi-Pen and communicating with daycare and school. But no matter how much you learn about keeping your kid safe, eating at restaurants is always a bit stressful. This week, a groundbreaking new product was launched that promises to help with that.
Nima Peanut Sensor, which debuted this week at the annual Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is a portable device that lets you quickly test food for the presence of the peanut protein. It’s simple to use: You place a pea-sized piece of food into a capsule, and then insert the capsule into the Nima device. Within about three minutes, the sensor will display the results: either a peanut icon if the Nima has detected peanuts, or a smile icon if the sample contains less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of peanut. In fact, it’s so easy to use that most school-agers can operate the device themselves.
Like many products on the market today, Nima pairs with an app, which connects users to a community whose members rate restaurants and packaged foods based on their results and accommodation of dietary needs.
Of course, no technology is foolproof. Parents shouldn’t rely on Nima’s results alone, since it only promises 90-percent accurate results. And there's of course a chance that the pea-sized sample is peanut-free, but the rest of the meal isn't. Still, it can nonetheless offer reassurance to (rightfully) nervous parents.
As the mom of a kid with a strict dietary restriction, I can remember countless times when a restaurant server assured me a meal was safe, but I nonetheless felt apprehensive. I would have loved a device that quickly and discreetly allowed me to double check. Although it can’t take the place of constant vigilance, Nima hopes parents of kids with a peanut allergy will find their sensor offers an extra level of reassurance.
Peanut allergy is no joke. The reaction to accidental ingestion varies, but in many cases it can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition wherein the breathing airway is compromised, and epinephrine (Epi-Pen) must be administered immediately. It’s a terrifying experience for both kids and their caregivers, and the risk affects a great number of kids. In the US, 4.2 million children suffer from food allergies, and peanut is the most common allergen. In Canada, about 2.5 million people suffer from food allergies.
This first-of-its-kind peanut sensor comes with 12 peanut-test capsules, a charging cable and a carrying case. It retails for US$289 and will be available later in 2018. Click here for more information.
Nima also makes a gluten sensor for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance and is working on sensors that detect milk, tree nuts and other allergens.