Are you the parent of a child with food allergies? Or are you allergic to peanuts and worried there might be some in that cookie? So you know how terrifying it can be. Such allergies can be life threatening because it isn’t always possible to be certain some potentially deadly ingredient isn’t lurking in an item.
Now life will be easier! You can find out using a rather unlikely source: your cell phone.
A team of researchers from the University of Califonia, Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a new lightweight device that can attach to your mobile phone to detect food allergens in your favorite packaged foods.
Dubbed iTube, the attachment uses your mobile phone’s built-in camera along with an accompanying smart-phone application that runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity a laboratory would. The test can also quantify exactly how much of an allergen — including peanuts, almonds, eggs, gluten and hazelnuts — is in the sample, in parts per million, the researchers say.
Weighing less than two ounces, the attachment analyzes a test tube–based allergen-concentration test known as a colorimetric assay.
To test for allergens, food samples are initially ground up and mixed in a test tube with hot water and an extraction solvent. The mixture is allowed to set for several minutes. Then the prepared sample is mixed with a series of other reactive testing liquids.
When the sample is ready, it is measured optically for allergen concentration through the iTube platform, using your mobile phone’s camera and iTube app.
The test results are location and time stamped and the app uploads the data to iTube servers to create a personalized allergy database for statistical analysis.
“We envision that this cell phone–based allergen testing platform could be very valuable, especially for parents, as well as for schools, restaurants and other public settings,” Aydogan Ozcan, leader of the research team said. “Once successfully deployed in these settings, the big amount of data – as a function of both location and time – that this platform will continuously generate would indeed be priceless for consumers, food manufacturers, policymakers and researchers, among others.”Image source: http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1220283.1355510801!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/ucla-lab-chip.jpg http://mobihealthnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/iTube.jpg