If you’re unfortunate enough to be allergic to gluten or have celiac disease then there’s a nifty device that has been released that’ll let you scan your meal while out and about at a restaurant for example. If you don’t suffer from allergies to gluten it’s almost certain you have a friend or know somebody that does. There’s a high chance you’ve been out for a meal with a friend and they’ve had to try and explain to a waiter or waitress that they need their food to be completely free of gluten. In the past this could often result in the staffs face looking puzzled like they’ve never heard of the stuff. Fact of the matter is though that gluten intolerances are an ever increasing epidemic and the majority of restaurants now atleast know what gluten is and whether they want to cater to these people or not.
Non sufferers would say that’s what their nightmares are made of. Having to read each and every food label before throwing it in their gob. Having to ask staff while out for an enjoyable dinner if their food is contaminated with the stuff. The fact is it’s a reality for a staggering amount of people. Approximately one percent of the US population suffers from celiac disease specifically. In a recent food survey more than 10% of all Americans state that they stay away from baked goods such as bread or pastries, crackers and even gluten containing substances like soy sauce. They claimed they did this because they believed gluten was not good for the human body. If you do your research there’s quite a bit of evidence to suggest they have a case.
Thanks to a company called 6SensorLabs there’s been an intelligent device released to the market that can remove the daily pains of wondering if something is gluten free before putting it down the pie hole. The device, which is small enough to carry around in a handbag, is called ‘Nima’. This small gadget is capable of testing any foods in question in a matter of two to three minutes. Users simply place a sample of the food inside a disposable capsule that they then place into the sensor unit inside Nima. If the food is free of gluten it will show a smiley face and if it is not it will shown a sad face.
The company has reported that it can test a wide range of foods from liquid type products such as sauces or even soups to common solid foods. The device uses mechanics inside that break down the edible before it is chemically disolved with a range of enzymes used to target any possible gluten protein molecules. It is said to be highly accurate and capable of detecting extremely small levels of gluten that could harm the most sensitive of people.
Celiac disease and other gluten sensitive conditions mean the body overreacts to gluten, which is a protein molecule found most commonly in wheat. It causes the body to start attacking itself, namely inside the gastrointestinal region which can causes major pain and discomfort on a daily basis. Gluten is the main binding molecule in the three most popular grains of wheat, barley and rye.
The creators of Nima make no guarantees however that their product can 100% confirm there’s no traces of gluten on a diners plate. They’ve stated it is intended to be used as a supplementary device to help confirm gluten contamination rather than an outright be all end all decision maker. There have been many mixed reviews online with customers about whether it can properly do what it’s supposed to do and keep gluten from sufferers mouths.
The large and obvious problem with this tricky little product is of course there’s no way to test your entire plate of food by jamming the whole meal down its tiny body. So the test sample you take could be perfectly fine yet on the other side of the plate is a couple rogue pieces of gluten containing pasta that have managed to sneak their way onto the plate. It is probably better used to test things like sauces that are throughout an entire dish. When you’re out say at a chinese restaurant and the wait staff are unsure if the sauce is gluten based or not with a language barrier interfering with communicating you must have NO gluten! It could definitely prove handy in similar situations to this.
At the end of the day as a consumer you would need to ask yourself if having this extra data at your disposal is worth the cost. Scientific technology such as what is inside Nima is notoriously expensive and the makers of the product haven’t escaped this fact. It costs $279 to buy which might not sound too bad to some but each and every capsule you sink into the device, a one time use item, costs around 5 bucks! That could add up very quickly if you’re a regular wine and diner. If you’re a chronic sufferer with gluten sensitive allergies or diseases it could well be worth every dollar to ease your mind with what you’re putting in your mouth.