Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

A new portable device invented by SensoGenic, an Israeli-based startup company, can detect food allergens and potentially save lives.

Food labels often have misleading allergy warnings, rendering them untrustworthy in the eyes of allergic shoppers. The new device allows conscious consumers to check for themselves, and make sure the food is safe for them to consume.

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Food allergies are on the rise worldwide and are a growing problem, particularly in the developed world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US reports that the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. Peanut allergies are particularly dangerous, and between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergies have more than tripled in US children.

SensoGenic has developed the food allergen biosensor to be portable, hand-held and easy to use. It is based on advanced nanotechnology science and patents to accurately measure a specific protein of interest.

The device comes with single-use pads, on which a sample of food is placed. The device then analyzes the sample using cellulose, which attaches to the potential allergen and allows for detection. The device gives an answer within three minutes on a smart-phone with which it is paired.

The product is still in development stages and the company is currently building the first working prototype. The plan is to reach mass production in the US within three years, by 2022.

The planned retail price for the device is USD 199, and the individual single-use test pads will cost an additional 95 cents each.

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