Peanuts. The very word can strike terror in parents of kids who are allergic to this seemingly ubiquitous legume.
Birthday parties, school cafeterias, playgrounds… The list of places where peanut exposures could occur goes on and on. At the same time, you can’t keep your kid inside a bubble forever, so the anxiety loops in an infinite cycle.
But now, technology comes to the rescue! Nima is a portable, hand-sized device that can test foods for peanut proteins. All you need to do is pop a pea-sized piece of food into one of the single-use testing tubes. The easy-peasy process takes only about three minutes; if the food is peanut-free, you’ll see a smiley face pop on the screen.
The company — which also manufactures a gluten sensor — claims the device has 99 percent accuracy.
A device like Nima could be invaluable for highly allergic people — after all, just because a food doesn’t contain peanuts doesn’t mean it’s free of peanut traces. About 1 to 2 percent of the population in Western countries are allergic to peanuts, and that number has been on the rise: According to Food Allergy Research and Education, the number of kids in the U.S. with a peanut allergy has tripled between 1997 and 2008.
The device isn’t cheap: It retails at $289 and comes with a dozen test capsules, and additional 12-packs cost extra. Still, for safety and peace of mind, we imagine many families with allergies will deem Nima well worth it.