A handheld device that identifies airborne molecules allows those with life-threatening food allergies to eat safely.
An Israeli startup has developed a handheld device that detects the full ingredients in food, preventing those with allergies from consuming anything dangerous to their health.
Each year, there is a significant increase of people suffering from food allergies, especially in Western nations. In the US alone, food allergies cause over 200,000 emergency room visits annually, 29,000 of which are due to anaphylactic shock. Nearly 100-200 of these cases end in death, according to eHealth Ventures.
One Israeli startup has taken the situation in hand – literally.
AllerGuard has developed a patent-pending handheld personal allergen sensor. The device enables an allergic person to scan the food before consumption to make sure it is safe to eat.
Unlike other allergen-detection systems that take only specific samples of food, AllerGuard analyzes the entire meal.
The device analyzes food vapors for their chemical and physical properties, down to parts per billion. It then indicates if allergic compounds are present, such as peanuts or dairy. No actual food samples are required.
According to the AllerGuard Systems website, one can know within 60 seconds if the food is safe to eat, with “unprecedented accuracy down to the molecular level.”
The system works by first holding the device over a plate of food and allowing it to absorb the vapor molecules. Then, electrochemical sensors identify any potential allergens. Finally, “artificial intelligence analyzes the chemical structure of the vapor molecules to identify any allergen presence down to the maximum allowable presence of an allergen deemed safe to eat,” says the website.
The AllerGuard team was awarded the eHealth Ventures Digital Health Innovation Award in 2017. It recently raised $1.5 million for its innovation, reported Calcalist.The company has offices in Tel Aviv and Maryland.