New Device Can Detect Gluten in Foods

When you have Celiac disease or a serious sensitivity to gluten, you know you have to take steps to avoid it. And that doesn’t always make you the life of the party. It’s all too common for gluten-free dishes at a restaurant to be cross contaminated with gluten. It’s a problem that can put your health at risk and interfere with your social life if your peer group likes to dine out.

If you’re going to stick to a gluten-free diet to protect your health, your best option is to eat whole foods, prepare your own meals, and skip out on dining with friends to avoid accidentally being exposed to gluten. But with a growing number of people who need to follow a gluten-free diet, researchers wanted to find a way to change that.

California-based 6SensorLabs has created a portable gluten sensor that’s about the size of a credit card. And it can detect trace amounts of gluten, as little as 20 parts per million, from a sample of food. If a restaurant meal, packaged food, or product says it’s gluten-free it must contain no more than this trace amount of gluten, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

How does it work? It’s pretty simple. Go out to a restaurant, order a gluten-free meal or pick foods that don’t contain gluten from the menu. But just to play it safe, you can use the Nima sensor to check for gluten in your food.

Take a pea-sized sample of food from your plate. Place it in a Nima capsule. Then let the device do it’s magic. In 2 to 3 minutes, the Nima sensor reacts with any gluten found in the food and binds to the proteins. If the reading displays a wheat icon, it’s a warning the food contains gluten. If the test results show a smiley face, the food may be gluten-free and safe to eat for those following a gluten-free diet.

Keep in mind the results are only representative of a small portion of food, not an entire plate full of food. A gluten-free reading does suggest it’s safe to eat, but you still have to use your better judgement to decide if you’re going to dig in or skip dining out for a home-cooked meal you know is gluten-free.

Following a Gluten-Free diet is critical if you have Celiac disease or a serious allergy to gluten. But it can be challenging to prep all your meals at home, avoid eating out, and skipping social engagements where food brings people together. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. The Nima device is one way you can take your life back when you have a gluten allergy. Choosing entrees from our Gluten-Free selection of meals can make your life easier too.